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Union fight, master plan highlight council's 2015 agenda

Several council members up for reelection in May

SAN ANTONIO – 2014 was a very busy year for the San Antonio City Council.

The group lost its leader when former Mayor Julian Castro stepped down to join the Obama administration. His departure paved the way for the history-making appointment of the city's first African-American mayor, Ivy Taylor.

An urban planner by trade, Taylor put crafting a comprehensive master plan for the city at the top of her agenda. "(We need) a master plan crafted jointly by stakeholders led by citizens addressing out problems in innovative ways," Taylor said during the annual "Mayor's Vision for San Antonio" presentation in August.

Seeing a new collective bargaining agreement between the city and the police and firefighters' union is also a top priority for the council, which was forced to cut more than $8 million in funding for street maintenance projects to pay for the rising cost of public safety healthcare benefits.

"If we have more revenue or if we settle the contract, we have some concessions by the labor unions, then we will be able to add back those street maintenance projects that are so necessary and wanted by the community," Sculley said last month following the council's vote to slash the street maintenance budget.

The two sides are headed to court in the new year to get a judge's ruling on whether the 10-year evergreen clause in the unions' contract is constitutional.

Negotiations turned toxic toward the end of the year as the police union attacked City Manager Sheryl Sculley through TV and radio ads, accusing her of overstating the impact of public safety health benefits on the city's budgets. The union has called on the city council to terminate Sculley's contract and drop the court challenge.

Other notable items on the council's agenda include picking a replacement for police Chief William McManus and deciding whether to equip officers with body-worn cameras.

Council members are also likely to take another look at new policies regulating transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber.

Council members will have a full slate in 2015, and voters will decide how many new faces will be on the dais come election day on May 9.