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Mayoral Candidates Outline Policies On Fire Union, Transportation, Property Taxes

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San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and San Antonio City Councilman Greg Brockhouse addressed some of the top issues of the June 8th mayoral runoff election during separate appearances on TPR's "The Source."

Nirenberg appeared on Wednesday and Brockhouse appeared on Thursday.

Ron Nirenberg

Nirenberg said one of his top concerns is property tax relief. He said only a small portion of a property tax bill is owed to the city. He added that the city council has worked to keep a lid on property taxes as appraisals continue to rise.

“The truth of the matter is one-fifth of your property tax bill goes to the city of San Antonio," he said, "and we have over the last several years reduced the tax rate. We last did that in 2015. But we have to work together to provide real property tax solutions.”

Nirenberg also said he favored a city homestead tax exemption to provide further property tax release.

He said he is still hopeful a labor contract with the fire union can be worked out that balances the needs of taxpayers with the needs of firefighters.

“I remain ever hopeful that that will be resolved with actual negotiations at the table," he said, "but at the end of the day what we are here to achieve for the taxpayers of San Antonio and first responders is a fair deal that respects taxpayers and the brave men and women of the fire department who do the work. We can’t have it any other way. We need a structurally-balanced deal, and that’s what my objective is.”

On transportation, Nirenberg said he supported the findings of the multi-billion Connect SA plan.

“We need integration of all the transportation modes from our pedestrian network to our basic street infrastructure to our bus system and then ultimately to a new mass transit system for the City of San Antonio," he said. "That’s what Connect SA has put together as a framework.”

Nirenberg described himself as an independent.

Greg Brockhouse

Brockhouse said during his appearance that the city hall has grown out of touch with the needs of the city's one-and-a-half million residents.

He said residents want the city to focus on providing basic services. He said he has a clear difference with Nirenberg.

"I'm talking about closing the trust gap between city hall and the city, and the residents, and the neighborhoods," he said. "Back-to-basics focus. Property tax relief, streets and public safety, potholes, animal care services. The simple things that are resonating. It's a clear difference."

On climate, Brockhouse said he was opposed to the way the city plans to deal with environmental issues.

"I think the climate action and adaptation plan is a multibillion dollar boondoggle," he said. "I'm gonna put the clamps on it. I'm gonna be 100 percent honest with you. We're gonna roll that back and think about the monies that are going to be spent on that. We can't be killing jobs at the same time we are trying to save the environment. There's a balancing act that needs to happen there."

And on the lack of a fire union labor contract with the city, Brockhouse said settling that issue is one of his top priorities.

"I would tell anyone listening, this: 'Number-one goal for me as the mayor of this city is fair and reasonable contracts for first responders that protect our taxpayers," he said. "We can do them both because we have done that the last 30 years. It takes time. It takes respect. We had to stop suing them. By the way, we wasted $2 million dollars doing that at the city."

Early voting in the June 8 mayoral runoff race begins on May 28.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.