Though the pandemic cut into San Antonio’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget, the city still reinstated money for roads and community services while increasing police funding.
The latter drew fire from law-enforcement reform advocates.
Meanwhile, circumstances compelled Northside Independent School District to approve a deficit budget, while Boerne Independent School District and Fair Oaks Ranch each are trying to keep spending and revenues on an even keel.
San Antonio’s total $2.9 billion balance sheet contains neither pay hikes nor layoffs, though a hiring freeze is instituted. But, police received a 5% raise mandated by the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the police union.
Reductions were made in various departments to accommodate COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives, and shortfalls in tourist- and convention-related revenue streams decimated by the crisis.
The budget has three components — the general-operating fund, restricted funds and the capital budget. The overall financial plan is $4.4 million less than FY 2020, with the municipality facing a $127 million revenue shortfall primarily due to the virus.
Community services including libraries, youth programs and senior services won’t see any significant alterations.
The metropolis is returning more than $40 million in street maintenance deferred in the 2020 budget when it addressed COVID-19 related shrinking revenues.
Altogether, San Antonio’s new budget allocates $102 million on road repairs citywide, including Oak Drive between Milsa Drive and the Interstate 10 West access road, and $18 million on sidewalk upgrades across the municipality.
But, the latest ledger disappointed those who sought decreased police funding following protests against social injustice and unnecessary force. Instead, the department’s allocation grows by 1.7%.
Regarding cries to defund the San Antonio Police Department, City Manager Erik Walsh asked the council, staff, police chief and community “to define what we want the police to engage in the future.” He said many police calls, such as mental health care checks, require more nuance.
“The trick there is — there are a lot of different expectations with our Police Department, and their jobs have changed since Chief (William) McManus walked a beat in Washington, D.C.,” Walsh said.
“We need to think about what kind of encounters we want to put our police officers in. Some of them are completely appropriate,” he added.
District 8 City Councilman Manny Peláez said the policing issue has grabbed lots of attention this summer, but municipal leaders must consider a larger perspective and maintain numerous services for a growing city of more than 1 million people.
“This is a complex thing,” he said of the budget.
FAIR OAKS RANCH
The city’s combined government operational budget for FY 2021 projects $9.33 million in revenues, down from $9.70 million projected in the previous year’s budget.
Projecting $10.2 million in government operational expenses for the new financial plan is down from $10.8 million last year. The city is dipping into its fund balance to equalize 2020-2021 bookkeeping.
Public-safety funding increases from $3.1 million to $3.3 million. The public works/maintenance budget is climbing from nearly $549,000 to $565,108.
Fair Oaks Ranch is maintaining its total property-tax rate at 37.3 cents per $100 valuation.
The Northside Independent School District approved a $963.6 million general-fund budget for the 2020-2021 academic year, with $936.9 million in projected revenues.
Even after using transfers and the district fund balance, NISD’s latest financial plan includes a deficit of $11.5 million.
“With the uncertainly related to COVID-19 and possible unanticipated expenditures to deal with delivering instruction in alternative methods, $8 million has been budgeted to assist with these expenditures,” the NISD budget executive summary states.
NISD is levying a total tax rate of $1.28 per $100 valuation, a slight decrease from $1.30 last year.
The Boerne Independent School District’s general-fund budget for 2020-2021 projects $89.2 million in revenues, up from $80.7 million in the adopted 2019-2020 budget.
BISD projects $89.2 million in expenses this new school year, a significant rise from $80.7 million last year.
The new budget includes a $4 million-plus increase in instructional funding. Teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors will get an $840 raise each.
There’s also 2.5% and 1.5% pay grade midpoint increases for auxiliary and paraprofessional hourly employees, and professional salaried employees, respectively.
BISD lowered its total property-tax rate from $1.28 per $100 valuation to $1.25.