San Antonio Wants to Hear from You

Posted on 07/17/20

By Aimee Knight

Due to pandemic-related funding shortages for the San Antonio city budget, tough decisions need to be made in the runup to the 2021 fiscal year, and input from the public is crucial.

“In a normal year, the city can’t do everything, there just isn’t enough money,” Erik Walsh, city manager of San Antonio, said. “Well this isn’t a normal year. So we really need to focus on what those priorities are for the community.”

2020-07 San Antonio budget broadcast.png

On an AARP Texas Facebook Live broadcast with Ismael Herrera, who leads AARP’s work in San Antonio, Walsh outlined the challenges of creating next year’s budget, the importance of public input and ways for San Antonians to have their voices heard.

Much like any other city across the nation, the pandemic’s arrival in the spring, the ensuing shutdown and residents’ lack of confidence in getting out and about during re-opening phases, has had a significant impact on San Antonio’s revenue, Walsh said.

In April, the city cut $200 million of its $2.7 billion 2020 budget. The uncertainty of what the future holds prompted Walsh and his team to recruit the help of economists, who project the next two years will see the elimination of another $110 million in spending.

“The city is not a business that can close down for two weeks or a month,” Walsh said. “We have to continue to provide services, but--in order to do that--our budget in 2021 will likely contract.”

Walsh and his team will present their proposed budget to the city council on August 6. Their focus, he said, is on reducing lower priority items while maintaining those services most folks feel are important, like parks and infrastructure.

Although they had to furlough more than 200 employees through the end of July, Walsh said they don’t want to be in a position where they’re laying off employees. “There’s too much economic distress out there,” he said. “We’re going to need to tighten our belt first before we start looking at any of those things.”

Walsh encouraged San Antonians to keep an eye out for upcoming virtual town halls on their website and to look out for communications from council members in August and early September for updates, an overview of the proposed budget and requests for feedback.

Residents can make their voices heard on what services matter most by taking the quick budget survey before July 31.

The process of crafting the budget occurs annually, laying the plan for the subsequent fiscal year beginning October 1. The council will vote to adopt the budget on September 17.

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