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.