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Even With Budget Shortfall, Sculley Says San Antonio Is No Detroit

Chris Eudaily

With nearly $19 billion in debt, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Detroit's top officials have been ignoring the warning signs for decades.

San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley said she is not sure how the city will dig itself out of the financial ruin.

"They've been in a situation where their assessed valuation and their population have both been declining for many years," Sculley said.

San Antonio is facing a budget shortfall of up to $50 million for the next budget year, but Sculley said San Antonio is able to balance its budget, though it may take extra measures.

The city council engaged in a goal-setting session last month to outline the members’ top objectives.

"Following the council's priorities, they'd like to see us continue to fund our public safety, streets and drainage maintenance in the community," Sculley said, "but they did say we should a look at increasing fees to help us accomplish the shortfall."

Sculley said the city has a diverse and strong local economy compared to Detroit's dependence on the struggling auto industry, and also cited the military presence along with steady job growth as big factors for San Antonio's solid financial footing.

Sculley said San Antonio also has $90 million in the bank for an emergency. She said city leaders are constantly looking ahead, which helps keep the bottom line stable.

"We not only take a look at the current fiscal year, but we also plan ahead for the next fiscal year," she said. "We have conservative financial management. We balance our budget, which we must maintain by law."

Sculley credits a low cost of living, a high quality of life, and the diversity of industries as to why the Alamo City is on the right path.

San Antonio just affirmed for the fourth year in a row its AAA bond rating by the three major rating services. Sculley said it’s the fifth year for the top rating by Standard & Poor’s.