Criminal JusticeLocal NewsTaxes & Spending$3.4 Billion Budget Adopted by San Antonio City Council, Including Controversial Power Bill Rebate

Property taxes will increase beyond the no-new-revenue rate, city workers will receive pay raises, and additional SAPD positions were authorized.
September 16, 2022
The San Antonio City Council passed its largest budget in history on Thursday. The $3.4 billion budget will take effect on October 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

The general fund is set at $1.51 billion, also a historic high for the city. This includes most basic services such as police, fire, public works, and parks — along with financing the city’s general operating budget.

The property tax rate will decrease from $0.55827 to $0.54167 per $100 in taxable value but due to rising appraisals and the city choosing not to adopt the no-new-revenue tax rate, it is a property tax increase. Total property tax revenues are slated to increase by $52.8 million next year, $13.7 of which comes from new properties added to the appraisal roll. 

The city’s homestead exemption will also increase from 0.1 percent to 10 percent. The homestead exemption has increased since 2019, when it was first offered at .01%.

Included in the budget is the contentious plan to reimburse CPS energy ratepayers with a rebate on their power bills. A result of the $75 million windfall in CPS revenue from the previous fiscal year due to high electricity costs and record temperatures, those backing it hope to offset some of the recent increases in electricity prices after the 2021 blackouts.

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Since the plan to reimburse ratepayers was broached to city council this summer, there has been significant argument over what to do with the money. Some council members believed the rebate was inconsequential for San Antonio residents, as it would amount to an average of $30 per ratepayer. 

Alternative ideas for the windfall included weatherization initiatives, grid resilience, and programs to help victims of domestic violence.

Despite the opposition, the rebate plan was included in the budget and $42.5 million will go to all residential and commercial CPS customers. This decreased from the original plan to give $45 million back to most customers.

The rebate program sets aside $7.5 million for low-income CPS customers who qualify for the Residential Energy Assistance Partnership (REAP). To qualify for this program, a resident must have an income at or below 125 percent of federal poverty level which is currently at $34,687 for a family of four.

The budget also raises city worker pay and includes a minimum wage increase from $15.60 to $17.50 an hour. Other civilian employees will receive a pay raise of 5 percent across the board to keep up with the increased cost of living

Infrastructure improvements are also included in this budget, with $116 million designated for street repair, $21 million for sidewalks, and $3 million for traffic signals. 

The city allocated $136 million for affordable housing initiatives with the intent to build 2,500 new units. 

Over half of the of the general fund is allocated to police, fire, and emergency services, amounting to $904 million. Authorization for 78 new officers is included for the San Antonio Police Department while the San Antonio Fire Department and EMS are authorized to hire 21 new total personnel. 

Even though the public safety budget represents a year over year increase, the amount of public safety funding as a percentage of the general fund will decrease

City Manager Erik Walsh said in a press release following the adoption of the budget, “I am extremely proud of the City team who provide quality customer service to our residents and am glad to be investing in the recruitment and retention of this team.”

“The budget is balanced and will enhance the services our residents expect, while also giving money back to them through direct property tax relief and energy credits.”

The budget’s lower percentage for public safety comes amid a rise in violent crime in the area. San Antonio has seen increases in murders, assaults, burglary, and other crimes since 2021.


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Hudson Callender

Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.