City Council majority favor streetcar funding change

7 of 10 members report they're on board

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

The majority of the San Antonio City Council -- seven out of 10 members -- said at Thursday's meeting they favor a minor change in streetcar funding that would eliminate the need for $15 million in private sector monies.

"We're going to do more with the same amount of money the city is putting forward," said Diego Bernal, who represents District 1. "It's important people know there's no new money going into this plan."

The city is allocating $40 million as its portion of the VIA Transit Improvement Plan that includes streetcars.

Ray Lopez in District 6 said the funding gap has been filled with $92 million in Texas Department of Transportation funds through Bexar County.  

"Quite honestly, there is no need to burden the local business community at this point," Lopez said.

However, Carlton Soules of District 10 who voted against the original proposal last year, said the business sector was part of the initial funding equation.

"It was sold to us there was so much support for it that it would not be problem and now all of a sudden it's a problem," Soules said.

Reed Williams, of District 8, who voted in favor of the streetcars last year, said the business community who benefitted from city incentives should pitch in, like developers along Broadway, a possible street car route.   

"If they're not willing to support it financially, then it's a big indicator that we probably shouldn't either," Williams said.

Elisa Chan, of District 9, said she is undecided on the amendment.

The majority also said since the plan already has council approval, they saw no need to take the issue before the voters.

Soules said since they will be voting on the amendment, "I would recommend postponing that vote and putting it on the May ballot."

However, Lopez said, "I think there are a lot of decisions that we are expected to make as elected leaders of our community."

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