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City, police union contract negotiations to resume July 10

City budget process heats up amid contract uncertainty

SAN ANTONIO – Just like last year, the city's budget process for the 2016 fiscal year will unfold with the fate of the police and fire union contracts still uncertain.

Negotiators with the city and police union are scheduled to resume talks on July 10. At a public input session on the city's West Side Monday, City Manager Sheryl Sculley said she's hopeful a deal can be reached before she makes her budget proposal in August.

"I'm required by law to present a balanced budget. The budget is balanced today, it will be balanced when I present the (FY 2016) budget," Sculley said. "I'm hopeful that the unions will cooperate and work with us on something that's fair to their employees and affordable to the taxpayers."

The city wants to cap public safety spending at 66 percent of the general fund. In order to do that it must reduce its funding to police officer and firefighter health care. Police Union President Michael Helle said officers are willing to contribute to their own health coverage, but he believes the city is overstating the impact their contract has on the city's budget.

"Most of the people that I'm hearing in this community meeting care about public safety," said Helle. "They want their streets repaired and I can tell you that our contract has no involvement in not getting that done. The city has plenty of money, it's just a priority of where they want to put that money."

I addition to the usual requests for more sidewalks, better streets and drainage, and more library and park funding, some residents are pushing for a rise in the minimum wage for city employees.

Members of Communities Organized for Public Service and the Metro Alliance want a $15 an hour wage by 2019.

"That is the wage that studies have shown an employee needs to make if they are raising a family of four to stay off of federal assistance or subsidy program," said Diane Duesterhoeft.

The City Council will meet at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Thursday to outline their budget priorities. The public is invited to attend.

For more information on the budget process, click here.