City Council votes to put charter amendments proposed by firefighters union on November ballot

Order meant to block city from putting 3 amendments on ballot

By Bill Barajas - Reporter, Myra Arthur - Anchor/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio City Council voted Thursday to put charter amendments proposed by the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association on the November ballot.

A state district judge denied a temporary restraining order brought by a political action committee against the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.

The order was meant to block the city from putting three specific amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The 224th District Court delivered the decision Wednesday afternoon.

The court case centered on the lawsuit against the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.

The suit was brought by Secure San Antonio's Future, a political action committee that claims the union illegally funded a campaign for three proposed charter amendments.

The amendments, if passed by voters, would make changes to the city's charter.

One amendment is for a salary cap and term limits on the position of city manager. The second would allow the union to bypass contract negotiations and go straight to arbitration. The third would lessen the requirements for people to stop the City Council from taking action.

Secure San Antonio's Future alleges union funds were illegally spent on political contributions or expenditures and that the union did not disclose information about the $510,000 used to gather the 20,000 signatures needed for petitions to force a charter amendment election.

The City Council voted to place the three proposed charter amendments on the November ballot after hearing a presentation on a study of the potential fiscal impact to the city, should voters approve the amendments.

The city was required by law to conduct such a study, City Manager Sheryl Sculley said Thursday.

Steven Nivin, Ph.D., a local economist and associate professor at St. Mary’s University, conducted the study.

Nivin said the potential impact to the city could be between $382.3 million and $4.2 billion over the next 20 years.

Most of the fiscal impact, Nivin said, would be derived from the “uncertainty” created by by passing the union’s proposed charter amendments, which could lead to a reduction in business investment in San Antonio.

Management of the city budget would also be on shaky ground, according to Nivin.

Chris Steele, president of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, called the presentation a “scare tactic” and believes there would be no fiscal impact.

Read the full study below:

Charter Amendments Report 

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