SAN ANTONIO – In the first full week of 2016, San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor is laying out her goals and priorities for her first full year in office.
In an interview Thursday, Taylor said some of the most important items are unfinished business from 2015.
Taylor said she's optimistic about where the city is headed but said there's plenty of work to be done.
"The state of the city is great," Taylor said. "We're doing pretty well but we do have some challenges we need to tackle for the long term. It'd be pretty easy to just kind of coast but I think if we don't address things like workforce development, creating that pipeline of skilled talented individuals, and transportation, and also planning for our physical future, then I can't say for sure that the next generation will be able to enjoy the same quality of life that I'm enjoying right now. That's why we need to make those tough decisions, and have those conversations and make those investments right now so we can ensure we stay on the trajectory we've been on."
At the top of Taylor's to do list in 2016 is getting a contract hammered out with the police and fire unions.
Wednesday morning it looked like the two sides would return to the negotiating table but disagreement over the city's lawsuit regarding the evergreen clause remains a sticking point, and Taylor showed no signs of backing down.
"They want us to drop the lawsuit, and at this time we're not prepared to do that," Taylor said.
City Manager Sheryl Sculley is also looking for a new contract in 2016 after her last contract expired at the end of 2015. The mayor expects Sculley to stick around but said it could take about two months to get her a contract.
"What's important to me is that we have a review process," Taylor said. "So I talked with her this week about how that will work, so I'll be working with other council members to gather that information and provide that feedback to her."
As the Alamo City continues to grow, so do its transportation needs. Taylor is hopeful the passage of Proposition 7 by voters last year, which sets aside tax revenues for road improvements, will provide the necessary funding to keep traffic moving but she said we need to do more than just expand road capacity.
"The discussion about transportation can't just be about expanding road capacity because that's not going to get us out of congestion or address some of the other related issues," Taylor said. "We really have to be thinking about developing alternative means of transportation, expanding the services that VIA provides, as well as looking at different development patterns so that people don't have to get in their cars and use a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk."
One issue Taylor thought she'd been spending a lot of time on in 2016 was securing funding for a new federal court house, but Congress approved the funding at the end of 2015 in a spending bill. Taylor is now focused on building the new judicial center and figuring out what to do with the old one in Hemisfair Park.
Another big issue on Taylor's list of priorities is annexation. Taylor slowed the process down last year and she doesn't seem interested in moving fast on it in 2016.
"We're still going slowly, which I think is better, to take the time to be thoughtful about what we'll do and weigh out all our options," Taylor said. "I think it's important for us to be really thoughtful because though the prevailing notion has been to kind of capture the economic growth in those outer areas and then use that throughout the city. My push back is that those areas we bring in, they will come with their own sets of of needs as well. They may have larger roads that need to be expanded and other infrastructure needs and other public facilities like libraries and parks that they may demand for their communities and given the fact that we already have trouble keeping up with the infrastructure demands for our current footprint, I question how we'd be able to do that if we were to become physically larger."