San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg delivered a "State of the City" address last night.
Nirenberg discussed the pandemic and its impact on the city. "We have flattened the curve. From the directors to epidemiologists, doctors to nurses, contract workers to contact tracers - our city is in your debt. And I want to thank the leaders from all over our city that stepped up on our Economic Transition Team to provide the necessary guidance to safely reopen San Antonio businesses," said Nirenberg. "COVID-19 has moved the ground beneath our feet. It is changing our landscape, shifting our immediate needs, and further exposing long-term problems that have, too often, plagued us. This virus has exposed massive disparities in educational attainment, life expectancy, access to the Internet and economic opportunity. These problems need to be taken head on, now, if we're to emerge as a stronger city. This crisis has clearly shown us that our neighborhood boundaries often serve as barriers to opportunity. Where you live should not determine your level of access to support from your city."
Nirenberg said the pandemic has shifted the city's focus to other areas than what were being considered prior to the virus hitting. "Our top priorities must be managing the crisis and providing opportunity for all San Antonians as we restore our livelihoods, so we must put aside plans that made sense before the pandemic shocked our community," said Nirenberg. "So in November, we will not be asking voters to redirect the one-eighth cent sales tax that becomes available next year to the transportation system outlined in the ConnectSA process. We WILL champion effective, essential service where it is needed most. This is a painful, but necessary decision for us. Direct action to ensure a healthful economic recovery means rebuilding now. We will take the time we need to fully understand the depth of the pandemic's financial damage before making new investments."
Nirenberg said the pandemic has had a significant impact on the city's revenue and expenditures. "The slowdown in sales tax collections means that the amount committed to the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program won't be collected until the summer of 2021. Prudence requires that we wait to make a final decision about the future of the program's funding," said Nirenberg. "To stimulate the economy as quickly as possible, I've asked our city management to accelerate all infrastructure projects that are scheduled and funded. Safely, but surely, let's get to work."
Nirenberg said better days are ahead. "Now imagine a city where your ability to pay didn't determine the level of education you could access. A place where initiative is enough to climb the ladder of opportunity," said Nirenberg. "Our community has always been fortified by what we've survived. Now, we begin the task of building from our foundation to give rise to a more equitable, resilient city of opportunity for all. For the worst is temporary, and the best is yet to come."