2014 Kickoff Luncheon to Benefit United Way

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The community is invited to join the City of San Antonio staff on Friday, July 11, 2014 at the Alamodome from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. for the 2014 City of San Antonio Charitable Campaign Kick-Off Luncheon.  The event will feature the City of San Antonio’s Executive Team serving the meal to City employees and guests.

The lunch plate costs only $10 and includes: pasta and meatballs, salad, breadstick, your choice of water/tea, and a cookie. Proceeds from the Luncheon will benefit the 2014 City of San Antonio United Way Charitable Campaign.

Tickets are now on sale and available here. Payment can be made by credit card online. Free parking is available in Alamodome Lot A.

2014 Spurs Championship Celebration

Congratulations to the 2014 NBA Champions San Antonio Spurs!
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San Antonians are invited downtown this Wednesday, June 18 to help the San Antonio Spurs and the City of San Antonio celebrate a fifth NBA Championship. A river parade community celebration begins at 6 p.m. on the River Walk.  Following the river parade, the celebration will move to the Alamodome for a special ceremony beginning at 9 p.m.

Both events are part of the 2014 Spurs Championship Celebration, presented by H-E-B and BBVA Compass.  The City of San Antonio is hosting the celebration for the Spurs and the entire community. Rio San Antonio Cruises and the Paseo del Rio Association are also providing support for the event.
The events will be broadcast live by several local network affiliates.  In addition, the events will be webcast live online at Spurs.com.  Event information is also available at VisitSanAntonio.com.

RIVER PARADE DETAILS:
The river parade will begin at 6 p.m. at the Arneson River Theater, travel through the River Center extension, and end at the Navarro Street Bridge. Barges will carry Spurs players and coaches, Spurs officials, former Spurs players, City and Bexar County officials, live musical entertainers and others down the San Antonio River.

ALAMODOME CELEBRATION DETAILS:
Spurs players, coaches and local officials will address fans at the Alamodome and show off the latest championship trophy.

The doors for the Alamodome celebration will open at 4:30 p.m.  No tickets will be needed to enter the Alamodome.  Fans who arrive early at the Alamodome will be able to watch the victory parade broadcast live on an LED video wall, as well as the highlights of the Spurs 2014 NBA championship run.

MEDIA
Questions regarding licensing and media credentials for the Arneson and the Alamodome should be directed to Carlos Manzanillo/Spurs Sports & Entertainment at (858) 344-8620, cmanzanillo@ATTcenter.com, or Julie Shussler/Spurs Sports & Entertainment at (210) 867-6825, jshussler@ATTCenter.com.

Boarding Homes Update

Ordinance related to “Boarding Homes” went into effect on March 1, 2013. Since the effective date, more than 2,000 properties have been investigated to determine if they meet the definition per the Ordinance.

Referrals have been received from the San Antonio Fire Department, San Antonio Police Department, Texas Adult Protective Services, Texas Department of Aging and Disability, and the Development Services Department’s boarding home “hotline”.

  • Of the properties investigated, 96 were identified as boarding homes
  • 45 properties are currently operating as boarding homes
  • 51 properties are no longer in operation due to withdrawing, voluntarily closing, reducing number of residents below three, or City has closed them
  • City has closed six (6) properties, due to numerous life safety issues; these properties housed 93 residents who were voluntarily relocated with assistance from City’s Department of human Services and Adult Protective Services

Development Services Department will continue to actively monitor and inspect boarding homes within San Antonio. The department encourages residents and other agencies to report potential boarding homes to our boarding home hotline at 207-8511.

Alamo Plaza

Under the guidance of The City Council, the City is undertaking a comprehensive master planning effort for Alamo Plaza that is respectful of the plaza and the Alamo’s history.

On March 6, 2014, City Council passed an ordinance approving a process, strategy, and next steps for the development of a comprehensive master plan for Alamo Plaza and the surrounding area, to include the establishment of a 21 member Alamo Plaza Advisory Committee.

The Committee is charged with updating the 1994 Alamo Plaza Study; creating a vision and the guiding principles for the redevelopment of Alamo Plaza and the surrounding area; assisting in the development of an RFQ for the comprehensive master plan; and providing general oversight of the development of the master plan.

The committee had its first meetings on May 9th and has help 6 meetings since. All meetings have been posted in advance and are open to the public.  The purpose of these meetings has been to gather information on the current operations, history, perspectives, and relevant plans pertaining to the plaza and surrounding area. These work sessions will begin on June 23rd in Room 206 at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center.

The Committee realizes the importance of Alamo Plaza to our community, so the public will be invited to provide feedback on the Committee’s progress during a public meeting on August 26th in Room 103 at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center.

The Committee will submit its recommendations to City Council at the September Quality of Life meeting before proceeding to a City Council B Session in November. The goal is to request endorsement of the proposed update to the 1994 Alamo Plaza Study and authorization to proceed with the RFQ process in late Fall 2014.

For more information on the initiative please call Sarah Esserlieu at 207-0108.

City Council and Resident Input Received for FY 2015 Proposed City Budget

The City of San Antonio initiated preparation of the City’s FY 2015 Annual Budget that begins October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015. Community Input and City Council Policy direction are critical to the development of the City’s Budget.

Community Budget Meetings were held from May 19 – 22, 2014 across the City, providing an opportunity for residents to offer input before the budget is prepared. At these meetings, residents identified City service delivery priorities, potential budget reductions, and potential revenue increases for the upcoming budget

Streets, sidewalks and drainage were at the top of the service delivery priorities of the community. In the area of potential revenue increases, the community indicated that an increase to the City’s property tax rate should be considered for FY 2015. As a potential reduction, residents indicated that uniform healthcare should be aligned with civilian employee healthcare.

Wages and benefits must be fair to employees and affordable to taxpayers.  Over the past seven years, the City of San Antonio has implemented a compensation philosophy for civilian employees of competitive wages and employee participation in the cost of healthcare. City of San Antonio civilian employees contribute toward their health care costs including all executive staff.

Public Safety employees earn competitive wages today. The proposal is that they contribute toward the cost for healthcare for themselves and their dependents. Doing so results in a savings of more than $10 million per year.

The San Antonio City Council held a Goal Setting Session for the development of the FY 2015 proposed budget on May 27, 2014 at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. City Council discussed budget service delivery priorities, categories identified for potential reduction, and categories identified for potential revenue increases.

City Council Members identified the following seven goals as high priorities for FY 2015:

1)    Expand the financial capacity for street maintenance, curbs, sidewalks, and address drainage;

2)    Maintain and strengthen the commitment to public safety, which includes maintaining a structural and affordable balance in the budget. Develop a proposal to address the costs of public safety for this fiscal year and provide more information about further options to manage costs over the long term.

3)    Expand and enhance neighborhood strategies including Animal Care, Code Enforcement, and neighborhood revitalization

4)    Enhance the City’s investment in education and adult literacy efforts;

5)    Keep the current economic toolbox equipped in order to compete with other cities;

6)    Develop and fund a multi-year plan for improvements to existing parks and for park acquisitions and analyze usage in order to make effective decisions; and

7)    Fund and complete a Comprehensive Development Plan, including transportation policy, water policy, air quality policy, and public space planning.

The policy direction received at this session along with the community input received during the May Community Budget Meetings and Budget Input Box will be used to develop next year’s budget. Budget adoption is scheduled for September 11, 2014.

For more information regarding the FY 2015 Budget development process, visit www.sanantonio.gov/budget

Office of Management and Budget Update

I am pleased to announce that the City of San Antonio received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the FY 2014 Operating and Capital Budget.

This award is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) which is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

State and local governments that are awarded the recognition have prepared budget documents of the very highest quality reflecting budgeting best practices and transparency to the public.

 

This Award reflects the City’s commitment to continue to develop a budget that serves as a financial and operations plan for the City of San Antonio reflecting the City Council and Community priorities

 

Our thanks to Maria Villagomez, Director, Office of Management and Budget and the talented Budget Staff

Convention Center Expansion Update

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Expansion project is currently under budget and on time.

On May 20th, the first major construction milestone, assembly of the steel frame, began on the north façade of the Convention Center. This work will become much more visible to the public as it progresses to the east facade by mid-June.

Additional work that can be seen on the construction site from the Market and Bowie Street intersection includes construction of two elevator shafts, pier drilling, and foundation work.

CPS Energy completed the installation of new gas lines which will allow for the transition from steam supplied by the SAWS Central Plant to gas boilers located in the new facility. This transition is tentatively scheduled to occur in mid-June.

Construction is on scheduled for completion on or before April 2016, when demolition of the west wing of the convention center will begin.

Staff maintains daily coordination with key customers and stakeholders such as Hemisfair Park, the Grand Hyatt, the Tower of the Americas, and the Institute of Texan Cultures in order to minimize the effect that construction could have on normal business operations.

Our thanks to the Transportation and Capital Improvements Department and Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department for their work on the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Expansion Project.

We look forward to the continued development of this exciting project for the community.

VISTA Volunteer Update

The Corporation for National and Community Service has awarded the City of San Antonio 10 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer positions.

AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty. Volunteers work on policy research and development projects to help build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of agencies that assist low-income communities.

Coordinated through the Department of Human Services, the City’s 10 volunteers will serve with:

  • The City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, Head Start program, and Senior Nutrition Program,
  • The Library’s Adult Digital Literacy program,
  • Metro Health’s Community Diabetes Program,
  • Pre-K 4 SA’s Parent Engagement and Outreach efforts, and
  • SA2020, helping with Opportunity Partner Management.

5 additional VISTA volunteers are planned to work with Eastpoint projects as a result of the Eastside Promise Zone designation, for a total of 15 City-coordinated VISTA members.

Recruitment for these positions will run through June and July. The positions will be posted on the City’s website, AmeriCorps VISTA outlets, and other media. Each program will interview and select their respective VISTAs, and they will begin their work assignments on August 16, serving for a full year term.

VISTA volunteers are paid a living stipend of just over $11,000 per year. The City provides 20% of this stipend as well as mileage re-imbursement and incidental expenses.

These VISTA volunteers will be a great asset to the City organization and to the community, and we look forward to welcoming them in August.

For more information on this service program, individuals can contact 207-5288.

City of San Antonio – Fiscal Year City Budget Process & Employee Healthcare Costs

Dear City of San Antonio Employee:

This letter provides an update on the Fiscal Year 2015 City Budget Process and our efforts to manage employee healthcare costs.

City department directors are developing their budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014.  Based upon current estimates, the City is facing a $27 to $34 million shortfall for Fiscal Year 2015 to maintain current service levels and without any new programs. Therefore, various strategies are being considered to achieve a balanced budget as required by law.

First, departments are being asked to prioritize their operations and provide options to reduce their budgets up to 10 percent.  Second, the Innovation Division of the Budget Department is analyzing several city services to provide recommendations that will reduce costs.  Since its creation in 2007, the Innovation Division has identified $17 million in budget savings that have been implemented.

Additionally, the Human Resources Department continues to focus on health and wellness initiatives while managing healthcare costs.  More than 1,400 civilian employees moved to the Consumer Driven Healthcare Plan (CDHP) during the 2014 open enrollment last fall, saving money for both employees and the City. Today, 60 percent of the civilian employees are embracing the City’s wellness efforts with 3,400 individuals actively participating in wellness programming.

Moreover, we continue to explore and improve healthcare plan designs with our Employee Management Committee for the civilian employees.

Incentivizing wellness among our workforce and managing rising healthcare costs are priorities of the City of San Antonio.  Managing healthcare and other benefit costs is also a major focus of our collective bargaining with the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Likewise, we anticipate focusing on healthcare costs with Local 624 of the International Firefighters Association, once collective bargaining begins.

In late May, the City Council will discuss its goals for Fiscal Year 2015. This guidance will be used to develop our City budget. We will finalize our budget preparation in July and present a balanced proposed budget to the City Council on August 7, 2014.  Budget adoption by City Council is scheduled for September 11, 2014.

Because of the City’s budget schedule, we continue to encourage Local 624 of the International Firefighters Association to begin collective bargaining soon. This would allow the City to continue to make progress preparing the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget.

Over the past seven years, we have moved to a civilian compensation philosophy of competitive wages and employee participation in the cost of healthcare similar to what is offered to public and private employers throughout San Antonio, and across Texas and the nation. We believe this is the appropriate philosophy for all our employees. We also believe wages and benefits must be fair to employees and affordable to taxpayers.

For more information about the City’s budget process, budget proposals, and meeting schedule, please go to www.sanantonio.gov and click on “Fiscal Year 2015 City Budget.”  For more information on healthcare expense alternatives and recommendations for both civilian and uniform personnel, go to the same website and click on “Healthcare & Retirement Benefits.”

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to excellence in the delivery of city services.

Sincerely,

Sheryl Sculley

VITA Update

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program – or VITA – is a nationwide, internal revenue service-sponsored program providing free income tax preparation to individuals and families earning less than $60,000 per year.

In San Antonio, the VITA program is run by a coalition of more than 30 organizations including the City’s Department of Human Services, the IRS, Catholic Charities, the United Way, and other nonprofits, financial institutions, businesses, and local colleges and universities.

This year, from January 22nd through April 15th, the coalition operated 20 VITA sites across the community, with the Department of Human Services operating 16 of these sites and a mobile team.

The latest figures from last week show that VITA San Antonio served 32,500 taxpayers, compared to just under 30,000 returns processed at this time last year.

The program returned more than $58 million in total refunds and $33 million in Earned Income Tax Credits to the community.

VITA also saved taxpayers an estimated $7.8 million in tax preparation fees, which represents a significant savings for our VITA families, who have an average annual income of $21,000.

This Tuesday, the local coalition held an end-of-season event to recognize the more than 300 volunteers who devoted time to preparing tax returns for fellow San Antonio residents.

VITA’s work will continue year-round to process current, prior year, and amended returns at the Frank Garrett VITA office. Appointments can be made by calling 207-1711