SA City Council approves $830M worth of projects for 2017 bond program

Projects include streets, bridges, sidewalks

SAN ANTONIO – Though the City Council unanimously approved a list of $830 million worth of bond projects Thursday, there are pockets of public dissent.

The 181 projects are separated into streets, bridges and sidewalks ($445 million), drainage and flood control ($139 million), parks and recreation ($121 million) and facilities ($125 million). City officials said the five-year bond program will not require a property tax rate increase.

"Our AAA bond rating allows us to issue debt at the lowest interest rates in the country," city manager Sheryl Sculley told media after the vote.

The council still needs to vote on a $20 million urban renewal plan next month that would also be included in the bond program.

The council is scheduled to vote Feb. 9 whether to send the combined $850 million bond program to the voters in a May 6 bond election.   

Some have already voiced their opposition to parts of the plan.

Bob Martin, the president of the Homeowner Taxpayer Association of Bexar County raised concerns over several projects, including the $13 million slated for a land bridge over Wurzbach Parkway for Hardberger Park.

"I don't think those little rabbits and raccoons and what not would even support this if they knew they had to pay for it," Martin said of the project, which is supposed to help the park's wildlife.

Members of the "Unite Here" group came out against the $26 million for Hemisfair Park, which would be used for repairing its streets and developing a civic park there.

"How many affordable housing projects, other projects are going unfunded or underfunded so that we give $26 million to Hemisfair?" asked Unite Here organizing director Danna Schneider.

Though he did not speak Thursday, former city councilman Carlton Soules believes too much of the bond money is set for the "urban core" area of the city, at the expense of some of the districts.

"And districts depend every five years to do the most critical infrastructure projects," Soules said. "It's really their only source of funding."

The city manager refutes his claim.

"Eighty percent of the projects are out in the districts, and even those that are downtown -- a majority of those are for streets and drainage," Sculley said.

City leaders are behind the plan, but they will need to get the public backing it too.

"They've seen the infrastructure needs for the city of San Antonio," said District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher. "So I'm sure this is one they will support."

About the Author

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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