City 2017 Budget Increases Police Presence, Street Maintenance, And Wi-Fi In Parks
The City of San Antonio’s 2017 Budget is in the final stages of approval. City Manager Sheryl Sculley presented a $2.5 billion dollar budget Thursday that includes additional police officers, extra parental leave when employees have new children, and smart cities initiatives.
The city’s 2017 budget is slightly lower than the current year. There will be no increased property tax rate. It stays at about 56 cents for every 100 dollars of a home’s appraised value. It includes $79 million for streets and sidewalks. Another $3 million will be used for street lights, and pedestrian safety, 32 new police officers, nine park police officers, and two more fire and EMS classes.
Sculley says the city is embarking on a smart cities initiative to integrate technology. “We’re undertaking projects such as wi-fi service in ten of our major parks in areas where people congregate,” she says.
She says there’s a pilot program to increase access to city services. “We’re also using kiosks where people in the community can gain access without having a person standing there in the park or at a city facility to give the information.”
The budget includes an additional six weeks of parental leave for city employees with new children. That would create a maximum of 14 paid weeks for birth mothers.
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor says she was a city employee when her daughter was born and only received nine weeks of leave. “Probably three of those weeks were unpaid. And so for us to be able to offer so many weeks of paid leave to city employees, both mothers and fathers, when they have a child I just think is extraordinary,” Taylor says.
With the police contract nearly finalized, the city is expecting to save $87 million over five years in healthcare costs. The city will hold several public hearings before the council votes on the budget Sept. 15.