San Antonio’s Proposed 2023 Budget

Here are a few thoughts I had on the city’s proposed budget for next year:

  • $10 million for the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program

Few would dispute the need to protect our source of water.  It is the epitome of a public good, one which the private sector is least able to provide.  Unfortunately, the sales tax that used to fund it has shifted to a service routinely provided in the private sector; job training.

Now aquifer protection can be found in the city’s credit card balance.  This is problematic because that debt is serviced with taxes on citizens’ property.  This continually deprives the area of investment dollars needed to help small business start-ups, among other things. 

This is the wrong direction to be going in.

  • Using part of the $75 million CPS surplus for weatherization rather than rebates

Some on the council cite constituents preferring this route, a cover they hide behind too much.  It might come as no surprise that they suggest leveraging this to control residents’ thermostats. 

It’s true that many of us have, or do employ this system, but we do so voluntarily.  It’s strings like these that hook more people on government dependence.

  • $3.6 million to hire 50 police officers

There’s a catch: that’s federal grant money. 

Do we need more cops on the street?  Many say yes.  San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says they “don’t have any problem filling our cadet classes.”  38 cops would be hired without Uncle Sam pitching in.

Regardless, we should minimize such dealings with D.C.  Will we need those 12 additional cops in the future?  Perhaps, but why should citizens in other states fund them?  Why should we fund theirs? 

This kind of ‘free’ money is what feeds endless government spending.  It’s what enabled state and local governments to crack down on citizens when the coronavirus hit. 

  • “City Response to COVID-19”

Citizens must push back on the erroneous narrative that the “negative economic impact” was caused by COVID-19,” or that prior social problems were “exacerbated by the pandemic,” etc. 

The truth is, aside from the health implications, we’ll never know what impact the virus itself had.  Scared or authoritarian (has to be one of the two) politicians and bureaucrats dropped the hammer on society before we could find out. 

Congress’ witty legislation-naming machine hit the nail on the head with “American Rescue Plan Act.”  Only it’s not the virus we need rescuing from, but rather the officials in power. 

  • “The budget reduces the City’s property tax rate by 1.67 cents.”

How can the city raise exemptions from .1% (that’s right, 1/1000) to 10%, cut the rate almost 3%, but taxes still go up?  Inflation!  That translates into soaring property appraisals on the local level. 

If they were true to their “no new taxes” word during this spring’s bond drive, they would cut the rate over 13%.  If they did the right thing and scrapped it altogether, they could rightfully take some credit for the ensuing economic growth.

Alas, weaning yourself off others’ money and the ability to micromanage their affairs with this tool of cronyism is too tall of a task.

  • “The City of San Antonio continues to strive to be an ‘employer of choice’ in our community”

The San Antonio Express-News recently reported on a local Tex-Mex restaurant that is doing so well, they’d like to open a second location.  There’s one thing standing in their way though: finding staff. 

No private sector company, where real societal good is created, should have to compete with CoSA, whose “budget increases the entry wage from $15.60 to $17.50 for all civilian employees.”

This is a sign that CoSA may be bloated.  It also means free citizens are being made to pay again for their horrendous decision to keep things shutdown as long as they could a couple years ago.    

  • “Take up (Pre-K 4 SA) with your neighbors”

So said a councilman at his budget townhall, when questioned about that programs existence and costs.  To an extent, he had a point.  Like the Ready to Work (RtW) program alluded to above, it was approved by voters. 

However, would they have passed it if they knew it would spend almost 3-times as much per student as NISD does?  What about the missed-targets and growing welfare payments of the plodding RtW?  

Leaders should know the likelihood of government programs turning out this way.  When the councilman later touted jobs created from CPS weatherization, I wondered if my expectations were too high. 

Seeing that CPS still hasn’t selected an auditor upon which he and a colleague made their votes to raise rates contingent, and that there’s still no dashboard on the RtW website, my suspicions were confirmed. 

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