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Commissioners hear property tax relief update and celebrate Fiesta season

Bexar County Courthouse
Brian Kirkpatrick
Bexar County Courthouse

Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday heard an update on state bills on property tax relief and deputy manpower.

Melissa Shannon, the county's governmental affairs director, told commissioners that a bill that increases the homestead school property tax exemption to $70,000 for homeowners was still alive in Austin. She said a bill that caps annual property tax appraisal increases at 5% was also viable.

The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County is still pushing a state bill that would double the number of deputies in the county, or add 440 new positions, at a cost of $49 million to taxpayers, bypassing the commissioners court.

Commissioner Tommy Calvert said the court should pass some "good faith" measures to encourage the deputy’s union to drop its support of the costly legislation.

"This thing is barreling down our throats at the moment, and it's not looking good for the county," he said.

Calvert has suggested the county add 50 deputies in the next county budget cycle and pass a package of perks for deputies, including a pay raise, improved childcare and home down payment assistance.

In other action on Tuesday, commissioners approved a proclamation to recognize Fiesta San Antonio 2023, the city's biggest celebration of the year.

Commissioner Grant Moody is celebrating his first Fiesta as a new commissioner and was given the honor of reading the proclamation.

"Now therefore it be resolved that the Bexar County Commissioner's Court hereby recognizes and proclaims the 132nd Fiesta San Antonio, signed by your commissioner's court, he said, to applause from the court.

Fiesta honors the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution and celebrates the city's diversity. It runs from April 20 through April 30. Three million visitors are expected for the event that pumps $340 million into the local economy.

Fiesta includes three major parades and other attractions, including Night in Old San Antonio, St. Mary's Oyster Bake, Taste of New Orleans, and the King William Fair. It’s also the biggest fundraiser of the year for many local charities and non-profit organizations.

In other action, commissioners:

  • Alcohol awareness: Passed a proclamation to observe April as Alcohol Awareness Month to highlight the importance of preventing drunk driving, especially during Fiesta.
  • Native American cultural center: Voted to proceed with negotiations with RVK Architecture for the master planning and design of the Bexar County Native American Cultural Center. Plans call for the center to be located in Padre Park off the San Antonio River on the South Side. It will provide a space for activities and learning about the Mission Indians.
  • BioFest Week: Passed a proclamation to mark BioMedSA's BioFest Week. The event at the Sky Room at the University of the Incarnate Word connects Texas bioscience companies with access to capital and highlights the contribution of the life sciences industry.
  • Old Fredericksburg Road: Approved a “friendly” eminent domain action to acquire more than an acre of property in the Village Green Subdivision to make way for improvements to Old Fredericksburg Road. Nearly two miles of the heavily traveled Old Fredericksburg Road will be reconstructed between Ralph Fair Road and the I-10 West Frontage Road, adding paved shoulders, sidewalks, flood control improvements, a new bridge, and a new roundabout at Lost Creek Gap.
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