County and city leaders face tough decisions and multi-million dollar budget losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Quarantine and shelter-in-place orders have effectively halted San Antonio’s buzzing tourism industry -- a major source of revenue for local governments.
Sales taxes account for approximately 30% of an average city's revenue. The drop off in hotel and flight bookings, major events and retail sales has created a $100.9 million hole in the City of San Antonio's budget. Bexar County estimates an estimated $70-100 million hit to its general fund or worse, if the pandemic continues.
The hotel occupancy tax helped fund dozens of San Antonio arts organizations, who must now grapple with the suspension of funding through the end of the fiscal year in September.
The budget shortfall has forced the City to furlough 270 employees, possibly through the end of July. County management implemented a hiring freeze, but no existing positions or paychecks have been cut so far. Both governments have halted economic development initiatives and suspended normal budgeting processes.
How are the City of San Antonio and Bexar County bracing for and working to mitigate the effects of these major revenue losses? Which plans, programs and people could be affected?
How are other Texas cities and counties dealing with economic fallout from the crisis? What variables could affect overall outcomes? How could state and federal aid help?
What does the path to economic recovery look like for the City of San Antonio and Bexar County? How and when will local officials eventually reopen the economy? What are the biggest challenges?
- Erik Walsh, manager of the City of San Antonio
- David Smith, manager of Bexar County
- Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League
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*This interview was recorded on Monday, April 20.
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