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Election results: Charter amendments, annexation results

SAN ANTONIO – Local voters decided on a number of issues Tuesday. Among them are the three proposed charter amendments and two annexation proposals for land surrounding Camp Bullis and Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland.

Below are explanations of the propositions and the annexation proposals:

What are the propositions?

The City of San Antonio has provided the ballot language on their website, and what happens if they are approved.

You can also read them below:

CITY OF SAN ANTONIO PROPOSITION A

Shall the City Charter be amended to expand the types of ordinances that may be subject to referendum including appropriation of money, levying a tax, granting a franchise, fixing public utility rates, zoning and rezoning of property; increase the number of days within which a petition may be filed seeking a referendum on an ordinance passed by council from forty to one hundred eighty days after passage of the ordinance; and to provide that no more than twenty thousand signatures of registered voters are required for a referendum petition instead of ten percent of those electors qualified to vote at the last regular municipal election?

CITY OF SAN ANTONIO PROPOSITION B

Shall the City Charter be amended to limit the term the City Manager may serve to no longer than eight years, limit the compensation of the City Manager to no more than ten times the annual salary furnished to the lowest paid full-time city employee, and to require a supermajority vote to appoint the City Manager?

CITY OF SAN ANTONIO PROPOSITION C

Shall the City Charter be amended to provide the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 624 with unilateral authority to require the City to participate in binding arbitration of all issues in dispute with the Association within forty-five days of the City’s receipt of the Association’s written arbitration request?

If Proposition A is approved

Proposition A: Expanding the Referendum Process. This measure would:

  • Expand the City Council actions subject to referendum to include appropriating money, levying taxes, setting public utility rates, and zoning or rezoning property (all areas currently excluded by Charter);
  • Decrease the number of signatures needed from 10 percent of qualified voters in the last municipal election (approximately 70,000 signatures) to 20,000 signatures; and
  • Lengthen the timeframe for obtaining the needed signatures from 40 days to 180 days.

This measure subjects fiscal actions, such as tax rates, utility rates and bond issues, to the referendum process limiting the ability of the City Council to consider and implement policy and to manage the budget. The uncertainty created by potential changes to revenues and expenditures would certainly negatively impact the City’s ‘AAA’ bond rating. The amendment creates uncertainty resulting in cost to the City of San Antonio between $382.3 million and $4.2 billion over the next twenty years. In addition, it would create uncertainty in the area of economic development because companies looking to relocate to San Antonio and expand their operations through the use of economic development incentives may want not to face the potential uncertainty of referendums and will decide to go to another city. Based on the average size of the corporate relocation or expansion in San Antonio, this could result in a loss of 202 jobs per project.

If Proposition B is approved

Proposition B: Term Limits and Salary Cap for City Manager.

This measure requires a supermajority vote (8 votes out of 11) to select the City Manager, limits the City Manager’s term to 8 years and limits pay to 10 times the amount of the lowest paid City employee.

Currently, the City Charter gives City Council the power to determine compensation on the basis of his/her executive and administrative qualifications. The City Manager is hired by and serves at the pleasure of the City Council. Arbitrarily limiting tenure and salary restricts the ability of the City Council to recruit and retain the best talent for the position. This measure could limit the City's ability to attract the top-level talent necessary to efficiently and effectively run a city of this size. This may lead to a reduction in the quality and quantity of public services that, combined with the uncertainty created by the other two amendments, could slow economic growth. For example, firms looking to relocate to San Antonio or expand their operations within the city may decide not to do so out of concern that the infrastructure, quality of life and other public services may not meet their needs. This measure would not impact the current contract of the City Manager.

If Proposition C is approved

Proposition C: Binding Arbitration. This measure allows the firefighters union to unilaterally declare impasse at any time and force binding arbitration on the City in labor contract negotiations.

Currently, the Fire contract follows state law on impasse processes requiring action by both parties to negotiate in good faith first. The current process allows for a mediation option before binding arbitration by mutual agreement. Under the proposed measure, the Union could call for binding arbitration before participating in any good faith labor negotiations with the City which could have substantial negative impacts on the City’s budget. While the City Council always considers collective bargaining agreements within the context of overall budget planning and priorities, this amendment would vest a third-party arbitrator with authority to impose contract terms notwithstanding budget consideration. The arbitrator is not accountable for long term budget ramifications. Public safety already consumes about two-thirds of the budget of the City of San Antonio, and going to binding arbitration has the potential to increase this cost substantially. This will force the City of San Antonio to find other revenue sources and/or reduce public services.

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What are the annexation proposals?

JBSA-Lackland/Camp Bullis: 

The City of San Antonio has provided the ballot language on their website, and what happens if they are approved.

You can also read them below.

OPTION 1: "Yes Annexation: Shall the City of San Antonio annex for limited purposes, which includes the authority to impose related fines, fees and other charges, certain areas in the City’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction within five miles of the “MILITARY BASE NAME HERE” and within three years following city council approval annex for full purposes to provide city services and impose taxes?"

Limited Purpose Annexation: If residents vote for annexation, the City would begin the limited purpose annexation process. (Chapter 43 of the Texas Local Government Code).

This means:

  • NO City taxes and NO City services for three years. During limited purpose annexation, residents would not receive City services, would not pay City taxes, but could vote in City elections, with the exception of bond elections.
  • City Regulations - Allows the City to extend zoning and other public health and safety codes to the area. Land use controls related to military protections also would be applied to the areas.
  • Fees, Fines & Charges - The City has the authority to adopt and impose fees, fines and other applicable charges for services including building inspections,
  • permits fees, Certificates of Occupancy and other development fees.

At the end of the three year period, City Council must formally approve the Full Purpose Annexation of the area. The area would become part of the City of San Antonio.

  • City services and City taxes - Residents would receive full City services and would begin to pay sales and property taxes. The City would extend all City Codes and regulations to the area, consistent with those as applied to all city of San Antonio residents.

OPTION 2: "No Annexation but with Land Use Regulations: Shall the City of San Antonio be provided with the authority to adopt and enforce an ordinance regulating the land use in the City’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction within five miles of the boundary of the “MILITARY BASE NAME HERE” in the manner recommended by the most recent Joint Land Use Study, for the purpose of protecting the military missions, including the authority to adopt and impose fees, fines and other charges?"

No Annexation: If residents vote against annexation and for land use controls, the areas would remain within unincorporated Bexar County and the City would be granted the authority to extend land use regulations to protect military missions. There would be NO City taxes and NO City services. 

This means:

  • Military Joint Land Use Studies (JLUS): To ensure that future development is compatible with the military installations, each Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) has recommended certain land use strategies, such as land use planning, subdivision, noise, lighting, safety, height and tree regulations applicable to the military base.
  • Land Use Controls: The City may adopt and enforce an ordinance regulating land use protection including land use density, permitting of single-family residential structures by the City, and enhanced permitting of multi-family and commercial structures by the county, tree coverage protections, airport hazard overlays, military sound attenuation overlays, and water quality regulations.
  • Fees, Fines &Charges: Pursuant to state law, cities may enforce land use regulations should voters vote no to annexation. In order to successfully enforce a regulation, a city will have to impose fees, fines and other applicable charges for services including building inspections, permit fees, Certificates of Occupancy and other related development fees. Any fees imposed will be based on a cost recovery model for the development activity. Fees are collected only for new development requiring a permit and fines would only be assessed for enforcement actions.