SAN ANTONIO – The proposed San Antonio budget for 2022 is a record $3.1 billion and is expected to be adopted on Sep. 16. From a different approach to address mental health calls, to applying lessons learned during the pandemic, people around San Antonio should be able to see some noticeable changes.
“Infrastructure is a big thing. There’s a lot of potholes and just with just around the country, I mean, there’s a whole bunch of bridges that need assistance, roads,” Joel Fernandez, a San Antonio resident said.
KSAT12 recently spoke to some residents downtown to see what matters to them in the new budget and also heard from City Manager Erik Walsh on what they had to say.
“Monitoring mental health, mental health, being assessed for the unsheltered, you know, we’re down here with a lot of unsheltered population and mental health is a big crisis,” Gustavo Flores, a resident said.
In fact, mental health is a big part of the budget – and the new budget comes with recommendations as to how officials respond to emergency situations.
“One area that we’re going to do something a little bit differently is with the mental health calls. And we will have a team of a police officer, a paramedic and a clinician all respond to those mental health type calls because it’s not just a police issue. We want to be able to solve those on a long term basis,” Erik Walsh said.
Walsh said there was reasoning behind the changes to the calls that are outlined in the budget.
“Everybody calls 911 one for everything, so we spent time this year (27 meetings) with the community meeting with officers and trying to identify what calls for service do we not need to have a police officer go to; like barking dogs, loud music, fireworks, and instead have other city departments respond to them,” Walsh said.
And since the budget was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously healthcare plays a large part.
“People may notice more of a renewed investment in public health. And I think that to a certain degree, public health departments in this country are going to be a little bit like fire departments after 9/11. We’re doing the same thing. We’re reinvesting in our public health,” Walsh said.
But it’s not just the current city the budget plans for – as our population is growing fast.
“It’s a great place to live; It’s a great place to raise a family,” Walsh said.
To help address the increase in families, there are already talks about a future 2022 bond for infrastructure.
For a full breakdown and copy of the proposed city budget, click here.