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City Council Facing 2014 Budget Challenges

City of San Antonio

The city’s financial forecast for the rest of fiscal year 2013 looks good according to San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley. She told the city council the city is $5 million ahead of budget.

But the concern lies in the next fiscal year, where she and her staff predict a $35 to $50 million shortfall.

Sculley said 75 percent of the budget goes toward core services like police, fire, public works and parks and city council usually doesn't reduce funding for those services.

The remaining 25 percent of the budget goes toward services like libraries, code enforcement, and animal care services. The council will have to figure out what's most important and what can be cut.

"The challenges are tough because we'd like to do some new things in the budget but we don't even have enough money to continue spending at the level we're spending today," Sculley said. "So our constant challenge is, how do we re-prioritize, how do we do things better and differently with the resources we have available?"

She said growth expenses are outpacing revenue the city is bringing in. The council will go through a goal-setting session on June 25 to prioritize.

As for federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, the impact will be fully seen in 2014. Sculley said the majority of federal cuts are in human services and in public safety training, but the most basic training will still be provided.

Citizens will have a chance to weigh in on the budget from June 10-18. At those meetings, residents will outline which services they feel are most important before a draft of the budget is presented to the city council in August. Final approval for the 2014 budget will take place in September.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.