San Antonio's 2018 Budget Uses 'Equity Lens' To Allocate Funds
The City of San Antonio's $2.7 billion proposed budget estimates a 5 percent increase for operating and capital costs in the 2018 fiscal year, and does not include a property tax rate increase.
According to a survey conducted by the city's public outreach program Speak Up San Antonio, infrastructure is a top priority for citizens. The proposed budget earmarks $99 million for street maintenance and $5 million for sidewalks.
VIA Metropolitan Transit will see a funding boost of $4.3 million in FY18 to improve frequency on 10 existing bus routes and reduce travel time along seven major corridors. VIA is expected to receive a total of $10 million in the next two years.
San Antonio's growing population has raised concerns over the need for increased public safety measures. The proposed budget allocates $3.8 million for the San Antonio Police Department to hire 40 new officers, 37 civilian positions – most of which are 911 call takers – and additional San Antonio Fear Free Environment (SAFFE) officers.
For the first time, the city is using a perspective of "equity" to divvy up funds. This means areas with more need could see a larger share of funding, instead of each district getting an equal amount of resources.
"In the context of this proposed budget, decisions made through an equity lens matter because it determines how the City will allocate resources and set priorities to meet the social and economic needs of San Antonio residents," City Manager Sheryl Sculley wrote in a letter to City Council.
This change, which was requested during the City Council's goal-setting session in June, has prompted differing opinions from members about whether an "equity lens" is a fair and effective method of addressing inequality in San Antonio.
Those in favor say allocating funds through equity is the best way to address certain districts' vulnerabilities and to counteract years of historical housing segregation.
The city is hosting a series of public meetings, including one in Spanish at Pearsall Park on August 26. City Council is expected to adopt the budget on September 14, to take effect October 1.
- Sheryl Sculley, city manager for the City of San Antonio
- Kiran Bains, chief equity officer for the City of San Antonio's Diversity and Inclusion Office
- Christine Drennon, director of the Urban Studies Department at Trinity University
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