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FY 2012 Budget Highlights on “Texas Week with Rick Casey“

Tune in to the “Texas Week with Rick Casey” Show tonight for a discussion on the City of San Antonio’s FY 2012 Proposed Budget. The show will include City Manager Sheryl Sculley, and Maria Villagomez, Management and Budget Director, and will be aired on KLRN on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. For more information on “Texas Week with Rick Casey,” please click on the following link:


Creating a Pathway to Zero Waste

For the last several years, the City has placed a high priority on increasing its efforts to improve recycling services for the residents of San Antonio. We know what we do today will increase the sustainability of our community and improve our environment for tomorrow.

In June 2010, City Council adopted the 10-Year Recycling and Resource Recovery Plan for the City of San Antonio. The strategic goals in the “Pathways to Zero Waste” Plan are to ensure that all single-family and multi-family residents have access to convenient recycling programs, to improve recycling opportunities for businesses and schools, and to recycle 60 percent of all material collected by the City’s Solid Waste Management Department.

Some of the steps we are taking to ensure that we reach the goal in the 10-year plan include establishing recycling services for all multi-family complexes, creating a use-reduction and recycling program for plastic shopping bags, and reducing waste and material consumption at City-wide celebrations and cultural events.

Multi-Family Recycling Services
To ensure that all residents of San Antonio have the opportunity to recycle, in December 2010 the City Council approved a recycling initiative for multi-family complexes (apartments, condos, and high rise housing buildings) that requires recycling services be provided for all tenants. Now, all San Antonio residents will have recycling services by April 2012. For more information about the program, visit http://www.sanantonio.gov/swmd/Recycling/MultiFamilyRecyclingProject.aspx or call the Multi-Family Hotline at 207-6410.

Plastic Shopping Bags Use Reduction & Recycling Program
I am excited to announce our new Plastic Shopping Bags Use Reduction & Recycling program. The City understands the impact that plastic shopping bags can have on our environment so we have teamed up will several partner businesses, like HEB, to launch an awareness and marketing campaign. The goal of the campaign is to increase the usage of reusable shopping bags, increase the amount of plastic bags being recycled, and decrease plastic bag litter in San Antonio. Be on the look out for bag swap events, recycling kiosks at area retailers, and other ideas on ways you can reduce your usage of plastic bags.

Fiesta Recycling “Don’t Trash Fiesta…No one likes a messy party”
This year, the City focused on increasing recycling participation at the 2011 Fiesta celebration. I am pleased to announce that we quadrupled the amount of recyclables collected this year. In 2010 we collected approximately 2.4 tons of recyclable material and in 2011 we collected 13.8 tons of recyclable material. We know we are just scratching the surface in this area and we are already working with the Fiesta Commission to develop plans for next year so we can recycle even more. Thanks San Antonio!

For more information about the City’s recycling efforts, visit http://www.sanantonio.gov/swmd/ .

San Antonio International Airport Vision 2050 and Lone Star Rail Update

As the City of San Antonio continues to grow, our transportation systems are becoming increasingly important. There are several exciting changes on the horizon for the City of San Antonio, including an updated San Antonio International Airport Master Plan and the potential creation of a passenger rail system between San Antonio and Austin.

Vision 2050 – San Antonio International Master Plan
A major milestone at the San Antonio International Airport will be realized this Spring as Vision 2050, the update to the Airport’s Master Plan, will go before City Council for consideration and adoption. Vision 2050 identifies the development options regarding land use, facilities and services to ensure that the airport meets its strategic objectives and can accommodate expected levels of activity over the next 20 years.

The nearly two year process has included input from more than 90 individuals representing close to 70 organizations, including universities, businesses, chambers of commerce, local municipalities, tourism and community organizations, local utilities and transportation entities. Two public meetings were also held to allow the public to ask questions of the Master Plan Team.

The Vision 2050 Airport Master Plan can be viewed here. This site also includes information presented at the committee meetings such as agendas, presentations and the answers to the questions asked at the meetings. The committee came to three main recommendations for the growth of the Airport:

· Master Plan seeks to accommodate activity growth with facilities sized to meet that growth
· Common use airline gates can delay need for terminal expansion
· Airfield “infill areas” improve efficiency of apron/gate interface

Financial Sustainability
· Property acquisition can enhance non-aeronautical revenues
· Commercial development concept established

Transportation Hub
· Multimodal concepts position San Antonio International Airport as a regional transportation hub
· Interface with Austin-San Antonio Rail Corridor
· Opportunity for a VIA transit hub

Lone Star Rail
As another significant transportation initiative, the Lone Star Rail District will effectively compliment Vision 2050. Previously known as the Austin-San Antonio Commuter Rail District, the Lone Star Rail District was established by the Texas legislature in 1997 and formally organized in 2003 to promote the creation of passenger rail system between the cities of Austin and San Antonio. Since that time, the San Antonio City Council has passed several resolutions supporting the creation of the commuter rail district, and actively participated as a member in the district since 2003. City Council also passed a local resolution in support of the 2009 State Legislature appropriation of $200 million annually to fund the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund.

The District has identified 16 potential LSTAR passenger rail stations for the rail line, with five of these stations located in San Antonio. The estimated capital cost for the system is $394 million for initial service and $612 million for full build-out. The District is proposing to fund capital expenses over a period of time through a combination of federal grants, State Rail Relocation funds, Union Pacific cost-sharing and public-private partnerships.

Estimated operation & maintenance costs ($28 million for initial service and $41 million for full build-out for all locations) are proposed to be split three-ways, with one-third each to be contributed annually by San Antonio, Austin, and the combined smaller cities. The San Antonio region’s annual portion equals approximately $9 million for initial service and $14 million at full build-out.

While the City Council has expressed support for this project, they have requested that City staff explore funding possibilities for further consideration in Fiscal Year 2012 budget deliberations later this spring. In order to consider and analyze all funding alternatives, I have appointed an internal Financial Workgroup that will conduct a financial analysis on the proposed station locations and the operating and maintenance costs for the San Antonio region.

Additional information on the LSTAR project can be found on the District’s website: http://www.lonestarrail.com/

City of San Antonio’s 2010 Year in Review: A City of Opportunities. A Future of Possibilities.

The City of San Antonio has released its 2010 Year in Review, which highlights many exciting changes that took place in our community during this past year. As you will see, San Antonio continues to move forward in the face of a challenging national economy. This year’s report highlights impressive gains we have made in our local economy, and reinforces why our City continues to thrive and attract major businesses to our community. I am excited about the progress we have made in 2010 and look forward to a bright future for our City.

I invite you to read the report by clicking on the following link:


Positive change marked last five years at City Hall

On my five year anniversary as City Manager, I want to share with you some accomplishments and why I believe the future is bright with opportunity for our city. With the support of Mayor Phil Hardberger, Mayor Julian Castro, and three city councils, it has been five years of positive change to improve the business of city government.

In 2005, I began my tenure by engaging with residents, neighborhood associations, business representatives, special interest organizations, and numerous individuals who gave me their perspectives on city services and programs. The community input and policy guidance from the city council provided a framework for our transformational mission.

We have recruited excellent talent, strengthened the city’s financial management, improved city business practices, increased much needed police and fire services, and in 2007 approved the largest bond program in city history.

Today, more than 100 of the 150 streets, drainage and parks bond projects are completed or under construction. The balance will be substantially finished by May of 2012 as promised.

We have balanced five city budgets while reducing city property tax rates, increasing general fund financial reserves from 3% to 9%, and reducing waste through efficiencies, technology and some good old-fashioned house cleaning.

In 2008, the city’s general obligation bond rating was upgraded to AAA, the highest possible rating and a first for the City of San Antonio. Our AAA rating was re-affirmed in 2010, this time by the three major financial rating services. Of the largest cities in the United States, San Antonio is the only one to have three AAA ratings.

Without a single layoff in five years, we eliminated 1,000 city positions and added 450 new police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel. We have also increased spending for streets and sidewalks.

We have recruited local and national executive talent to lead our city departments. These 34 diverse individuals with exceptional experience and education are committed to serve the San Antonio community.

Today, city government is more transparent, more professional and focused on results. City council agendas are available to the public on the city’s web site in advance of meetings. Budget hearings are conducted annually in all 10 council districts to explain staff recommendations and obtain community input. The annually adopted infrastructure maintenance program provides residents with a five year schedule of street, drainage, sidewalk, and alley improvements.

We successfully automated single family residential garbage collection for 340,000 homes resulting in less cost, fewer injuries, and better wages for the automated truck drivers. We have tripled the amount of recycling from 6% to 18%.

Through our Pathways to Zero Waste strategic plan, our city council approved goal is to recycle 60% of our waste stream by 2020.

In partnership with the business community, we reorganized our economic development efforts by reducing costs and focusing on targeted industries and attracting higher wage jobs to San Antonio. Our new economic development model focuses on investment with a return rather than cash subsidies.

With council support of the newly created Centro Partnership, we are centered on redeveloping downtown San Antonio and our inner city neighborhoods. With partner organizations plans are underway for a streetcar system, more housing, Hemisfair Park redevelopment, a downtown grocery, and an expanded UTSA campus.

With the support of our Tourism industry, we reorganized our Convention and Visitors Bureau, designed and launched our “Deep. In the Heart” brand, and have increased the number of tourists and business visitors despite the recession.

We are fully engaged in Mayor Castro’s SA2020 community visioning process, the outcomes of which will prioritize public policy issues and future projects.

And, our customer service ratings are up! We completed city-wide community surveys in 2008 and 2010 asking residents to evaluate city services. We are using the data to further city improvements.

My continued thanks to our city employees and the San Antonio community for supporting me over the past five years. May the next five years be even more productive and exciting!

District Hearings provide residents an opportunity to comment on FY 2011 Proposed Balanced City Budget

On Thursday, August 12, the FY 2011 Proposed Balanced Budget was presented to the Mayor and City Council. San Antonio residents are invited to provide their comments by attending community hearings in each City Council District, beginning Monday, August 16. Council members and City staff will be available at the community hearings to answer questions from participants. A link of the schedule for the community district budget hearings is provided below. All hearings will begin at 6:30 pm. We look forward to hearing from our citizens on the proposed budget.