The San Antonio City Council gave final approval Thursday to place city charter amendments proposed by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association on the November ballot. The action was required because the amendments were driven by petitions.
Economist Steve Nivin told the council in a presentation that, if passed, the amendments could harm the city, citing “slower economic growth, the crowding out of non-public safety services, (and) increased interests cost on debt due to the lower bond rating," he said.
Council members didn’t comment during the vote as its role in the citizen-driven amendment process was purely ministerial.
League of United Latin American Citizens Member member George Alejos said during the meeting the city manager has too much power.
“City hall has forgotten their job is to make San Antonio safer, cleaner, fairer, equitable and with economic opportunities for everyone,” he said.
After the council vote, fire union president Chris Steele said it's now up to the citizens of San Antonio.
“Ninety thousand people signed this thing. This is their issue, and so 'let the people decide' is what we have said from the beginning,” he said.
Steele said the charter amendments wouldn’t have any effect on the city’s economy.
“What we know is that its scare tactics, and we also know the citizens are smart enough to see past that, they will read, they will understand, and they will vote yes,” he said.
He added the union has done an economic study of its own but declined to share any information about it or the name of the individuals who worked on it.
On Wednesday, a political action committee that opposes the amendments attempted to get a restraining order to prevent the council from putting them on the ballot.
A judge denied the restraining order but the lawsuit alleging the fire union illegally gathered signatures was allowed to move forward.
Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.