City of San Antonio’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Makes Investments in Public Health, Housing and Workforce Development
SAN ANTONIO (September 17, 2020) – Today, the City Council unanimously adopted the $2.9 billion Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, which is $4.4 million lower than last year’s budget, stays well below the statutory cap on property taxes and continues to invest resources in the four pillars of the Recovery & Resilience Plan, which includes keeping people in their homes, training people to secure jobs that are available today, supporting small businesses and improving digital connectivity for residents.
“The goal of the fiscal year 2021 budget is to maintain the city services that our residents expect, while also helping them recover from the devastating economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “We’ve been able to make meaningful investments in the services our community asked for, including public health, housing and human services, such as resources for mental health and support for those experiencing homelessness.”
The FY 2021 Adopted Budget invests $346 million in the community to vital services including health, housing, education and human services; this is in addition to the $291 million from federal grants targeted to assist the City with the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, as part of the continued response to COVID-19, many departments, such as Metro Health, Fire, Neighborhood & Housing Services, Economic Development and Human Services, have changed their focus to address the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and help San Antonio recover from its effects.
$45.8 million is allocated to Metro Health, including $20.3 million in the General Fund, which is a 29.6 percent increase compared to the FY 2020 Adopted Budget, the largest proportional increase of any department. The Adopted Budget creates a new Violence Prevention Division in Metro Health with a total investment of $8.9 million, including $1.3 million in new funds, and the transfer of 20 Crisis Response Team employees from the San Antonio Police Department to Metro Health.
The adopted budget also includes $1 million to expand the Healthy Neighborhood Program and to create a new Community Health Connector Partnership and augment other public health programs. The adopted budget also adds $120,000 to add 12 healthy corner stores in Districts 1, 2, 4 and 7, while maintaining support for the eight stores in District 3. This program provides healthy food options to areas that lack access to grocery stores.
The FY 2021 Adopted Budget allocates $27.5 million for affordable housing initiatives. This allocation also includes $300,000 for new legal kiosks at key city locations to assist at-risk populations.
The adopted budget includes $486.5 million for the San Antonio Police Department, an increase of 1.7%. Nearly all of the increase is contractually-obligated (by the collective bargaining agreement with the police union) or state law-required. The proposed budget reallocates $1.6 million from the police budget to accept a federal COPS grant to hire 25 new officers focused on preventing domestic violence and reduces overtime for police officers by $3.4 million.
The FY 2021 Adopted Budget also introduces a deliberate process to address foundational issues within the police department, review police services and engage the entire community on expectations. The San Antonio Police Department responds to more than 2.1 million calls for service per year, some of which may be more appropriately handled by other departments and service providers. The process will review foundational issues, such as accountability and discipline of officers, determine the community’s expectations of the police department, incorporate community input and identify funding and alternative response mechanisms. A draft plan will be presented to the City Council by April 2021. Negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the San Antonio Police Officers Association will begin in the spring of 2021.
Support for Residents Experiencing Food Insecurity
The budget also invests $1 million in the San Antonio Food Bank’s Culinary Center. The project will provide more prepared meals for families experiencing food insecurity. The center will also increase Culinary Training program class size, provide space for on-site nutrition education classes and allow the San Antonio Food Bank to be more prepared in the event of a natural disaster or future pandemic.
The General Fund, the largest operating fund in the proposed budget, is $1.28 billion, which is a 0.7 percent increase over FY 2020. The increase is primarily due to compensation increases from the collective bargaining agreements with the police and fire unions. The Adopted Budget includes new and existing investments in community service priorities. These investments include:
- Small business support: additional $500,000 that partially reinstates a City fee waiver program and an establishes a new entrepreneurship program
- Violence Prevention: a new division in Metro Health with a total investment of $8.9 million, including $1.3 million in new funds and the transfer of 20 Crisis Response Team workers from SAPD to Metro Health
- Affordable Housing: $27.5 million to assist residents at risk of displacement and facilitate the development of affordable housing
- Homelessness and Mental Health: $36 million investment, representing a $1 million more than FY 2021. $560,000 will allow the City to expand the Homeless Outreach Team created through the recovery and resiliency plan resulting in 11 district outreach Teams (one per district and downtown). $500,000 is added for an alternative mental health response option
- Healthy Food Access: $120,000 to add 12 healthy corner stores in Districts 1, 2, 4 and 7, while maintaining support for the 8 stores in District 3
- Education: $1.1 million to AlamoPROMISE to provide college scholarships to Alamo Colleges students
- Human Services and Workforce Development: $24.3 million for delegate agencies providing critical services to San Antonio residents
The General Fund also adapts to a new fiscal reality and the impacts of COVID-19 by including $87 million in budget cuts over two years ($38 million in FY 2021 and $49 million in FY 2022) due to revenue reductions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some the of the reductions include:
- Reduction of $14 million through City hiring freeze for most vacant positions, no pay increases for City employees, and other compensation adjustments
- Suspension of economic development incentives saving $5.5 million
- $3.4 million in reductions to the Police Department overtime budget and suspension of Police Cadet Hiring Bonus program ($739,500)
Online Tool Helps in Finding Grants and Tax Incentives
Black-owned fintech and finance company Novae LLC announced the launch of a new online tool designed to help small businesses to find grants and tax incentives that can help them to grow exponentially.
Called Novae Grants, the new tool will allow users to search a database of thousands of financial assistance opportunities from both the government and the private sector. Tax credits that small businesses may qualify for will also be included in the database.
Novae founder Reco McCambry says that the grants his team is gathering for inclusion in the database range from $500 to $5 million in size, and are designed to help business owners serve their communities. The grants include town- and city-based grants to revitalize local businesses and create jobs, and federal and think tank grants to support renewable energy, tech, and innovation.
“The idea is to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to locate the support they need to grow,” McCambry says. “Whether you’re a mom and pop shop or a good-sized startup, you may be doing something that one of these agencies wants to promote for the sake of the public good.”
McCambry notes that most of the grants which have so far been located and placed in the Novae Grants database are intended for small businesses with 6-100 employees, though some are also intended for larger businesses and sole proprietor startups.
“We know that local businesses make us more secure,” McCambry told me in our interview, “and we know that innovation often comes from startups. There are a lot of organizations that recognize this and offer funding to support these missions. But not many people know how to find these grants, and many assume they won’t qualify because they aren’t in some specialized public service role. Our mission is to change that and bring this money into our communities.”
The Novae Grants search engine is now available at novaemoney.com. In addition to grants, Novae also helps companies build business credit, provides access to traditional business funding, and offers businesses the ability to provide consumer financing for their high-ticket offerings.
Novae and CEO McCambry’s mission to increase access to financing for businesses and customers in underserved communities has helped the company and its CEO to earn numerous awards and distinctions in recent years. Novae has been included on the Inc 5000 list of the 5000 fastest-growing businesses in America for two years running, while McCambry was recently named Innovator of the Year at the annual Bank Customer Experience Summit and received an Outstanding Leadership Award at Money2.0 this Spring.
Cullen/Frost announces election of Joseph A. Pierce
Joseph A. Pierce has been elected to the board of directors of Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. He has joined the board’s Corporate Governance and Nominating, Compensation and Benefits, and Technology committees.
Cullen/Frost Chairman and CEO Phil Green said, “(Pierce’s) legal, financial services and marketing expertise will be very useful as we pursue our organic growth strategy, and he is a great match for the Frost philosophy and our core values of integrity, caring and excellence.”
Headquartered in San Antonio, Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. is a financial holding company with $51.8 billion in assets as of June 30, 2022. Founded in 1868, Frost has helped clients with their financial needs for three centuries.
Pierce is the senior vice president and general counsel of AMB Sports and Entertainment at The Blank Family of Businesses. In that role, he counsels and advises across all areas of the organization, including the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United and the PGA Tour Superstores. Previously Pierce held positions including senior vice president and chief legal officer at Hornets Sports and Entertainment, overseeing legal and business administration for the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association. He has also served as senior vice president and associate general counsel of global marketing and corporate affairs at Bank of America, Comcast Sports Television Group, and Jacksonville Jaguars Ltd.
Pierce holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Georgetown University, and dual Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration degrees from the Wharton School of Business and University of Pennsylvania Law School.
While he lives in Atlanta, he grew up in San Antonio and is very familiar with Frost.
“My family banked with Frost, and that’s how I knew of the bank’s customer service and the impact of Frost family in the community,” Pierce said.
In a 2018 NBA article on Pierce, he told the story about one of his track teammates, Ray Humphrey, who was a role model for him in juggling athletics and getting a law degree at the same time. Pierce said he used many of his experiences as a collegiate athlete to help him in his career and education.
He also shared in that same article that three of his four grandparents had doctorate degrees, which is not typical in many families but unusual in African-American families at that time. They all taught at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and were influential role models in his life.
“Growing up, I saw the impact of what education was able to do for them in their own lives, but more importantly, I saw the impact they could make with their own students that they taught. Going through life and meeting people that were students of my grandparents was great to see and really showed a lesson that it’s important to give back and make sure you do what you can to help other people grow,” Pierce said in the NBA article.
City of San Antonio to Launch $500,000 Capacity Building & Bonding Assistance Program to Grow Local Small Businesses
In the ongoing effort to support local small businesses, this week the City of San Antonio Economic Development Department, and the San Antonio Economic Development Corporation (SAEDC) launched the Capacity Building & Bonding Assistance Program administered in partnership with Alamo Surety Bonds.
This program will provide surety and bond assistance to eligible local small, minority, and woman-owned businesses seeking City construction contracts. This assistance is designed to establish, enhance, and increase the program participant’s bonding capabilities and capacity, which should lead to an increase in the number and size of City construction contracts they are both bidding on and awarded.
Eligible program participants will be provided a tailored needs assessment that includes educational, technical, and financial literacy components for success. In addition, program participants will be provided one-on-one bonding counseling, project support if awarded a City contract, and access to a $500,000 revolving pool of funds for those in need of assistance to cover costs related to City bonding requirements in order to bid on a City solicitation.
For more information on how to apply for the City of San Antonio Capacity Building & Bonding Assistance Program, visit www.sanantonio.gov/edd or call program administrators, Alamo Surety Bonds, at (210) 930-5550 or email at Jim@alamobonds.com.
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