SAN ANTONIO – In May, voters will be asked to decide on Proposition A, which would change the wording and expand the use of bonds to public purpose and public improvements that are allowed within the Texas constitution.
Currently, the City of San Antonio is limited in the types of bonds it brings forth for voters’ approval, like public works.
Frank Garza, a municipal law attorney and St. Mary’s University senior lecturer of municipal law, said that, right now, bonds can only be issued to fix streets, build things like fire stations or sewage and drainage-type projects.
Replacing the words “public works” with something broader, like “public purpose,” opens up the possibilities.
“The ballot propositions simply allows for the council to have the option to use bond dollars for public housing, affordable housing projects. If the voters approve it,” Garza said.
However, the voters will have the final say on any future bond, as they always have, Garza said.
“The checks and balances are always going to be up to the voters. The voters can say yes or no to something like that,” Garza said.
The city council’s focus has been to create bonds that will help create affordable housing options. However, there has not been a clear project presented.
Brooks Development Authority Jim Campbell says the board unanimously approved Prop A support because of its focus on encouraging the creation of affordable housing.
“It puts another tool in the toolbox. It does not transfer any additional authority than currently exists today,” Campbell said. “The council will have to act first, and then the voters will have to approve.”
Garza says one of the challenges cities like San Antonio face is the shortage of housing, specifically for an average family of four. He said appraisal taxes are up because there’s not enough affordable housing available, and the homes that go on the market sell quickly at higher prices.
“Being able to create more housing stock, affordable housing stock, it hopefully balances the cost of the price and lowers the cost of a lot more homes so that it’s more affordable for the individual who has a typical job,” Garza said.
District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry has been a firm opponent of Prop A. He says this issue was discussed several years back but wasn’t brought in for a council approval vote until February. He says the council should have been more transparent about what Proposition A does, and taxpayers would be giving up a list of needed road and infrastructure repairs.
“This will drain resources away from infrastructure projects that, again, we have over $3.5 billion worth of requirements and go into whatever the city council wants to do with that money,” Perry said.
Perry said hundreds of F streets have failed and need to be replaced and that there are already federal funds designated to create affordable housing.