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City Of San Antonio Seeks Feedback On Proposed 2021 Budget, Including Raise For Police

Police officers in riot gear face protestors in downtown San Antonio on Saturday May 30, 2020.
Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio
Police officers in riot gear face protestors in downtown San Antonio on Saturday May 30, 2020.

The City of San Antonio's budget went up by over $100 million the past few years, but the proposal for fiscal year 2021 totals $2.9 billion — $7.7 million less than in 2020 — to account for the financial impact of COVID-19. 

To account for lost sales tax revenue, hotel occupancy taxes and money from the airport due to the pandemic, the city's proposed 2021 budget cuts approximately $87 million over two years — slightly better than the originally projected $109 million, but still a financial gut punch for the municipal government. 

Despite months of protests and requests to "defund the police," one major point of public contention is that the 2021 budget would increase annual funding to the San Antonio Police Department by 1.7% — an additional $8 million a year — for a total of $487 million. 

About $1.3 million would be diverted from SAPD to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District to form a new violence prevention division. 

The proposed budget allocates $1.28 billion to the city's largest operating fund which, in addition to public safety, pays for streets, parks and other infrastructure.

How do city leaders make annual budgeting decisions? How are they justifying the increase of funding for SAPD? How is public input incorporated into the decision-making process?

Which departments stand to lose funding if cuts are approved? How does the city plan to recoup losses from COVID-19 and how long will it take?

How can San Antonio residents give feedback on FY 2021 budget proposals? What are the next steps in the process and when will City Council vote on the plan?

Guests:

  • Erik Walsh, San Antonio City Manager
  • María Villagómez, Deputy City Manager

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call  833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on on Wednesday, September 2.

Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon
Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.