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Bexar County Commissioners Approve $2.8 Billion Budget After Contentious Debate

Screenshot from live stream of recent budget debate in commissioners court
Bexar County
Screenshot from live stream of recent budget debate in commissioners court

Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $2.8 billion county budget, funded by a lower property tax rate that divided the commissioner's court.

The budget takes effect Oct. 1.

County Judge Nelson Wolff and Commissioner Tommy Calvert joined Commissioner Trish DeBerry in approving a reduction in the property tax rate. The cut of one-tenth of a cent to 29 cents per $100 valuation was pushed by DeBerry.

Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores abstained and Commissioner Justin Rodriguez voted against the property tax cut, both pointing out it only saves the owner of an average priced home around $4 a year.

Rodriguez said even that amount will be eaten up by higher taxes owed on higher property appraisals.

DeBerry said the tax cut is a step in the right direction for future property tax relief. She said she will continue to push for improved homestead tax exemptions next year.

Wolff tried to bring the court back together after days of contentious budget debate.

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"I've been through 20 budgets," Wolff said. "This is probably the most contentious one I've been through here toward the end, but I hope we don't overlook the success of this budget."

Wolff said that success includes more than $600 million over ten years for an infrastructure program for roads, flood control, creeks, trails and parks. It also funds 17 new sheriff positions, 28 new deputy constable positions and new court positions to handle domestic violence and child custody issues.

The budget also includes a 5% pay raise for county employees and a one-time lump sum bonus to hourly county workers of $2,000.

Additionally, commissioners approved a budget of around $2.2 billion for University Health, the county's public hospital system. It keeps the property tax rate the same, around 27 cents per $100 valuation.

Commissioners used an appearance in the court by UH CEO and President George Hernandez Jr. to question whether Wonderland Mall should be reopened to provide COVID-19 booster shots.

"The FDA committee on this topic meets this Friday, the 17th, to decide whether to authorize a booster for the general population. Right now, it has authorized it for people with immune system issues," he said.

Hernandez said UH has a plan in place to at the mall to provide mass booster shots if needed.

According to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, nearly 71% of eligible county residents are now fully vaccinated.