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May Election To Decide On Council Salaries, Charter Amendment

City of San Antonio

The San Antonio City Council is sending four propositions to voters in the May election. These would potentially change the city charter, add a streetcar amendment, give city councilmembers salaries, and fill council vacancies. Each of the propositions went to the ballot almost unanimously.

There were five city charter propositions up for consideration though, of which these four got the council’s stamp of approval.

Among them is one that gives San Antonio-based citizens the right to decide if any future streetcar projects should also be up to voter approval. That was an issue from last year that required several thousand signatures for consideration.

Voters will also choose if city councilmembers and the mayor will get salaries of $45,000 each and $61,000 respectively. The only council member to vote against that measure was District 9’s Joe Krier.

“I thought we ought not to put this on the ballot because it would be a distraction during an election season when the entire council and mayor are on the ballot. We need to be focused on getting a fair and equitable contact that provides good pay and benefits for our police and fire [personnel], and make sure that the city’s finances are sustainable without a property tax increase,” said Krier.

Currently, council members only receive about $1,000 per year. 

Another proposition would change how mayoral and council vacancies are filled, calling for a special election if 120 days or more remain in the term. A fourth proposition would eliminate outdated language or terminology in the city’s charter. Voters will decide on each of these issues on May 9.

A proposition that would have increased city council pay ever ten years was pulled from consideration last minute by District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher and will not be on the ballot.

The four amendments being sent for voter approval:

Proposition 1: Streetcar and Light Rail

Shall the City Charter be amended to provide that no grant of permission to alter or damage any public way of the city for the laying of streetcar or light rail tracks shall ever be valid, and no funds shall be appropriated and no bonds or notes shall be issued or sold for the purpose of streetcar or light rail systems, unless first approved by a majority of the qualified electors of the city voting at an election containing a proposition specifically identified for and limited to such purpose? 

Proposition 2: Council and Mayor Compensation

Shall the City Charter be amended to pay an annual salary of $45,722 to the members of the City Council (equal to the San Antonio Area Median Household Income), and pay a salary of $61,725 to the mayor (equal to the San Antonio Area Median Household Income +35%), and permit the Mayor and members of the City Council elected at the May 9, 2015 general election to be eligible to receive the salary?

Proposition 3: Vacancies

Shall the City Charter be amended to allow filling City Council and Mayoral vacancies by special election rather than appointment when more than 120 days remain in the unexpired council term, and to allow the City Council to appoint a temporary Council member or Mayor until the special election is held?  

Proposition 4: Outdated and Superseded Language

Shall sections 17, 41, 47, 50, 60, 61, 62, 76, 78, 82, 83, 85, 86, 94, 95A, 96A, 104, 105, 106, 145, and 163 of the City Charter be amended to eliminate provisions which have become inoperative because they have been superseded by state law; and to update language to current usage?

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules