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County commissioners allow Spurs to play more on the road, boost deputy manpower

Bexar County Courthouse
Brian Kirkpatrick
Bexar County Courthouse

Bexar County commissioners on Tuesday approved an amendment to the county's relocation agreement with the San Antonio Spurs.

The amendment allows the Spurs, for each of the next two seasons, to play one out-of-country game and two out of town games within 100 miles of their home arena, the AT&T Center, which is owned by the county.

Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai voted for the amendment and sought to ease community fears the Spurs might move out of town.

"I believe today's action is about trust and I trust the San Antonio Spurs," he said.

Team officials told commissioners taking the team on the road more often is part of expanding their brand regionally, which has been a big success.

This past season the Spurs drew the largest crowd in NBA history with 68,000 fans at the Alamodome.

They also set attendance records for two games played in the Moody Center in Austin, and their game in Mexico City sold out in 48 hours.

Team officials also pledged their loyalty to staying in San Antonio during the commissioners meeting.

In other action on Tuesday, Commissioner Grant Moody, the lone Republican, managed to push through part of his package of proposals to boost deputy manpower in unincorporated areas of the county.

The Deputy Sheriff's Association of Bexar County was looking for a "compromise" and "good faith" action from the commissioners to back down on state legislation mandating deputy staffing levels.

Moody told his fellow commissioners the county is booming beyond current deputy manpower.

He said the FBI recommends two deputies for every 1,000 residents.

"So we have a compound problem here. We are more than doubling the population the sheriff has to patrol in unincorporated Bexar County, and we are at less than half the staffing reported by the FBI,” Moody said. “To put it simply, I think we have a problem."

Commissioners moved forward on 62 patrol positions based on contingency funding and a study to better determine the total number of deputies needed next year prior to the next budget cycle.

They also approved a resolution promising additional deputies in the future based on available revenues.

Commissioners also:

  • Heard an update on the allocation and expenditures of tens of millions of dollars of federal COVID-19 relief funds under the American Rescue Plan Act. Judge Peter Sakai asked for the briefing from county staffers after some organizations complained they were not aware of funding opportunities or did not receive promised funding. He said any of the dollars that go unused by organizations and returned to the county should be used to reduce the county jail population.
  • Heard an update on the success of the SMART program from the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council. While county commissioners generally praised the program — designed to prevent potential deadly encounters between deputies and those with mental illnesses by dispatching experts on some calls — Commissioner Tommy Calvert was concerned there was not yet weekend staffing for the SMART program.
  • Implemented the results of a market study on county pay plans from the firm Baker Tilley. It called for more equitable pay plans and an adjustment of all civilian employees of 2% or the minimum of the new pay grade, whichever is greater, to be effective the first full pay period in May. Sakai cautioned employees it is a pay plan adjustment and not a pay raise plan. He said pay raises will be addressed during the next budget cycle.
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