No matter who wins next month's Mayor's race, he will be leading a city which is weighted down by debt, according to a new study by the watchdog group 'Truth in Accounting,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Director Shiela Weinberg says the average San Antonio taxpayer owes $16,600, on top of the property, sales, and other taxes we now pay, to cover multiple costs racked up by the City, the County, local school districts, and other taxing entites over the years.
She says the costs include bond issues, tax abatements given to businesses in exchange for locating jobs here, and the 'unfunded mandates' associated with the costs of public employee pensions and healthc are.
"Keep in mind that the retiree health care promises are not as well funded as the pensions," she said. "There is only 40 cents which has been set aside for every dollar governments have promised in health care benefits."
And she says many of these health care benefits are what came to be known during the Obamacare debate as 'Cadillac Plans,' with benefits far better than Medicare or private insurance.
"Either the police officers won't get their benefits, or the taxpayers are going to have to come up with the difference."
She says this is a very difficult problem local governments nationwide face for one key reason. Public employees are essentially the only workers in the country today who still have defined benefit pension plans and 'Cadillac' health care plans. So taxpayers who cannot dream of ever seeing this level of benefit will be asked to pay for these benefits to go to other people, a very difficult argument to make.
"And they are not going to receive any government services or benefits from that money," she says. "Those costs were already eaten up."
Weinberg blasted current accounting standards, which allow city and county governments to claim that their budgets are 'balanced' and 'in the black,' when, in reality, they have these massive future obligations stored off the books.
Actually, San Antnoio's situation isn't that bad, compared to other urban areas. Taxpayers in Houston are on the hook for $22,900, and in Dallas, the average taxpayer owes $33,900.
And don't even think of moving to Chicago. The average taxpayere there owed $119,000 in mandates, borrowed money, and future costs, more than any other city in the country.