Though the pandemic forced cuts to the city budget, San Antonio managed to reinstate money for roads and community services while increasing police funding.
The latter has drawn fire from law-enforcement reform advocates.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran is happy about the street, drainage and sidewalk allotment the South Side will see during Fiscal Year 2021.
“We’ve made so much progress. We need to continue that,” she said.
San Antonio’s new $2.9 billion budget will not result in any layoffs, though a hiring freeze is in place and there are no pay hikes. Police received a 5% pay hike as mandated by a contract with the city.
Reductions were made in various departments to accommodate COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives, and shortfalls in tourist- and convention-related revenue streams hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
The budget has three components — the general fund, restricted funds and the capital budget.
The overall budget is $4.4 million less than last fiscal year, with the city facing a revenue shortfall of $127 million primarily due to the pandemic.
Community services including libraries, youth programs and senior services will not see any significant alterations.
In addition, the city is returning more than $40 million in street maintenance deferred in the 2020 budget this past spring after absorbing a financial hit due to the worldwide outbreak.
Altogether, San Antonio’s new budget allocates $102 million on road repairs citywide, including Congress Avenue between South Flores and Curtis streets, and $18 million on sidewalk upgrades across the municipality.
San Antonio’s 2021 balance sheet also has a combined $61 million for affordable housing, mental health and drug treatment, and homelessness initiatives, including 11 new outreach teams — one for each council district and downtown.
Viagran is also delighted the city will support expanding her Healthy Corner Stores Initiative, where South Side convenience stores offer fresh, affordable produce.
However, the new ledger disappointed residents who sought to reduce the Police Department’s funding in the wake of protests against social injustice and unnecessary force.
Instead, the police force allocation grows by 1.7%.
Viagran applauded the amount, which includes more money on violence prevention, but insisted the department enhance its mental assessment for officers.
“We need, on a more frequent basis, to be able to help assess if (officers) have domestic-violence tendencies and if they have racist tendencies,” she added.
District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales commended city staff for crafting a balanced budget, which has no negative “impact on the services that the community always expects.”