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San Antonio Fire Department

The San Antonio Fire Department has partnered with the United State Army South-side Battalion to combine recruiting efforts. Starting in Mid-October this partnership will create a career pathway for military personal exiting their military career.

Currently the average enlistment lasts only 4 to 5 years; this program would connect with candidates to provide information about the department and the need for qualified candidates with their skills and values.  Currently the Battalion consists of over 80% minority enrollment and has the potential to connect with the San Antonio Fire Department goal of increasing the number of minority candidates.

The department has a 4 step approach for recruiting those within the military, as well as those contemplating a career within the military.

  • SAFD in conjunction with the military will work together recruiting at high schools.  They will work together to make presentations to high school seniors on the opportunities within SAFD and the military.  They will also set up recruiting tables at the high school with information on the department.
  • SAFD will also create a connection with those military individuals waiting for their orders.  SAFD can provide information on opportunities as a Fire fighter, which will allow SAFD to create a connection with the military individuals throughout their career.
  • That connection will create a mentorship that will exist throughout their career in the military.  SAFD will maintain constant contact with them to keep SAFD in the forefront of their minds.  This will create a long term engagement with SAFD, as well as a communication link for the soldier.
  • Once their career has been completed in the military, SAFD will help plan an exit strategy and provide them with information on starting a career with SAFD.

San Antonio Fire Department looks forward to working with the United States Army in the near future, as well as working with potential recruits for the San Antonio Fire Department.

2013 Employee Survey

The results of the 2013 City Employee Survey are in.  11,117 surveys disseminated to all full-time, part-time, temporary and grant-funded employees in both English and Spanish.  The overall response rate was excellent, with 8,044 completed surveys; a 72.0% return rate. Over the last 4 surveys, we have steadily increased our response rate with employees providing important feedback.

Based on the overall results of the survey, the City of San Antonio is definitely moving in the right direction with regard to the City’s efforts to meet the needs of its employees.  We have a very committed workforce and employees are proud to work for the City of San Antonio. Overall satisfaction among employees has increased to 87% in 2013 from 85% in 2011.

A high percentage of employees are using communications tools that have been developed by the City, and many of these tools appear to be having a positive impact on employee perceptions of the City:

  • City news releases
  • TVSA Programs
  • City Annual Report
  • Department newsletters
  • Employee newsletter – eConnections

While we have made positive strides in many areas we also have opportunities to improve our rewards and recognition programming and improve the work satisfaction levels among our skilled and craft employees and continue to provide quality of professional development opportunities to employees

During the month of September, employees will be provided with the overall survey results in both English and Spanish by means of department meetings, the City’s Employee newsletter, All-COSA emails and the COSA Web (intranet).  Departments will analyze and review the 2013 survey results and identify progress made in areas identified for improvement in 2014.

Market Street Closure

Market Street was closed to traffic at Bowie Street beginning on Saturday, September 14. The closure will last approximately 11 months. All vehicles will turn left onto Bowie Street, which will be converted to one-way to allow more turn and through lanes. Business access will not be affected. To learn more or see the detour routes online, visit www.sanantonio.gov/cims.

Sister Cities International Conference

The Sister Cities International conference was held in San Antonio July 11-13.  More than 600 delegates from 30 countries attended the conference.  By comparison, Jacksonville, Florida drew 180 delegates in 2012, so there was a 320% increase for the San Antonio conference.

Our International Relations Office coordinated the visits of nine official delegations, including delegations from six of our existing sister cities: Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico; Gwangju, South Korea; Kumamoto, Japan; and Chennai, India, and Wuxi, China.

A total of five mayors led these delegations, marking the first time in San Antonio history that multiple sister city mayors have been here at the same time. Mayor Castro and many members of our City Council played a very prominent role, hosting numerous events and meeting with each visiting mayor independently.

The City and its community partners hosted events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our relationship with Kumamoto and the 60th anniversary of our relationship with Monterrey.  In fact, we were sister cities with Monterrey three years before the Sister Cities organization was created by President Eisenhower in 1956.

Using the multiplier that the Convention and Visitors Bureau uses to measure the economic impact of visitors, the conference generated more than $500,000 for the local community.

2013 Kickoff Luncheon to Benefit United Way

The community is invited to join the City of San Antonio staff on Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 at the Alamodome from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. for the 2013 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 2013 City of San Antonio United Way Charitable Campaign.

Tickets are now on sale and available at cityofsanantonio-kickofflunch.eventbrite.com. Payment can be made by credit card online. Free parking is available in Alamodome Lot A.

In 2012, the City raised more than $1 million for the Charitable Campaign overall. According to the Nonprofit Times, last year San Antonio ranked as number one in best performing cities in America for United Way giving. City employees exemplify this top ranking with the support of the San Antonio community.

FY 2014 Proposed Budget

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The FY 2014 Proposed Budget was presented to the Mayor and City Council at the August 8th City Council meeting. During the month of August, City Councilmembers and City staff will hold Community Budget Hearings in the community. San Antonio residents are invited to attend these events and provide their input on the Proposed Budget. To find out where and when your District’s Budget Hearing will take place or for more information on the FY 2014 Proposed Budget, please visit the City of San Antonio’s Office of Management and Budget website at:

http://www.sanantonio.gov/Budget/BudgetFY2014-Development/ProposedBudgetDevelopment.aspx

 

City of San Antonio’s Bond Rating Affirmed

The City of San Antonio’s ‘AAA’ general obligation bond rating has been affirmed by the three major bond rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s. The ‘AAA’ bond rating is the highest credit rating that an entity can receive. San Antonio is the only city with a population of more than one million to receive a ‘AAA’ general obligation rating from all three major rating agencies.

Some of the rationale for the City’s ‘AAA’ bond rating cited in the bond rating reports included a strong and vibrant economy; financial performance and position; strong financial management policies; two-year budget strategy; comprehensive long-term financial; and capital program.

Among the ten largest cities in the U.S., San Antonio is the only one with ‘AAA’ ratings from all three major rating services.  This bond rating means lower costs of borrowing, decreased interest costs, and more funding for street, drainage and park repairs. This ‘AAA’ rating is the result of strong financial policies management of the City of San Antonio.

On July 16, 2013, the City priced two bond transactions to fund projects adopted in the City’s Capital Budget. General obligation bonds in the principal amount of $114,435,000 and certificates of obligation in the principal amount of $15,145,000 were priced by a syndicate led by Wells Fargo Securities as Senior Book Running Manager, RBC Capital Markets as Co-Senior Manager, and Piper Jaffray & Co., Rice Financial Products Company, Ramirez & Co., Inc., and Southwestern Capital Markets, Inc. as Co-Managers.

The City achieved excellent results in the pricing of the two transactions. The combined true interest cost on the general obligation bonds and the certificates of obligation was 3.747 percent.

Center City Development Office Update

Last June City Council approved two programs focused on the goal of having more people live within our Center City.

The first program was recommended by the Downtown Strategic Framework Plan and the Center City Implementation Plan to foster a greater density of housing in the Center City.

We have just completed the first full year of the program, known as the Center City Housing Incentive Program or more commonly called CCHIP.

City Council approved the program on June 21, 2012 for the purpose of providing predictability for developers as well as streamlining the process for determining development incentives for multi-family housing projects in the Center City.  Eligible projects within the CRAG can receive City and SAWS fee waivers, property tax rebates, low interest loans, and forgivable loans for mixed-use projects.

The program encourages mixed-use development, brownfield redevelopment, historic rehabilitation, and mixed income development.  Through SA2020 and the Framework Plan, a stretch housing goal was set at 7,500 new housing units by 2020; in its first year, the CCHIP program has put 14% of those units under contract for construction

The results of the program have been impressive

  • 13 CCHIP projects with signed agreements
  • 1,050 new housing units planned or under construction in the inner city
  • Approximately $160 million in private investment in the past year
  • Total Incentives provided – $10,155,350
    • $3,160,655 in fee waivers
    • $6,366,695 in real property tax rebates
    • $248,000 in low-interest loans
    • $380,000 in forgivable loans

CCHIP Projects Examples Include

  • The Elan Riverwalk at 411 E. Cesar Chavez – 350 rental units on the Univision Headquarters site on St/ Mary’s and Cesar Chavez.  (Construction Start in Fall 2013; Completion in Spring 2015)
  • East Quincy Town Homes at 1120 E Quincy – 25 for sale town homes in the Midtown TIRZ on Quincy and Newell Street. (Construction Start in Summer 2013; Completion in Fall 2014)
  • Casa Blanca Lofts at 1542 North Alamo – 17 for sale condominiums on the corner of Casa Blanca and North Alamo in the Midtown TIRZ.
  • Sutton Oaks Phase 2 at 1010 Locke Street – 208 affordable housing units in the Choice neighborhood.

We have 2 CCHIP agreements for 2 student housing projects on the West Side of our downtown:

  • Peanut Factory Lofts at 905 S Frio Street – 98 rental units of which 30% will be leased to students.
  • El Paso Co-Op at 509 El Paso – 72 student housing units with 7,000 square feet of retail.

Both of the housing projects are in line with the recently completed student housing study that identified the need for up to 550 student housing units by 2020.  Additionally, both of these projects acquired city – owned property for the development which is in line with the Implementation Plan recommendation to strategically dispose of publicly owned land.

The goal set forth by the Strategic Framework Plan was to increase the housing units by 7,500 by 2020.  At this moment, we have increased the housing unit count in the Strategic Framework Plan Boundary area by 2,451 multi-family housing units.  We are almost one third of the way to our goal.

The Second program, which was approved on June 14, 2012, was the Home Ownership Program for Employees or HOPE which was a pilot developed for City employees to assist in the retention and recruitment of full-time city employees as well as to provide first-time home-ownership opportunities in the Inner City/Infill Policy (ICRIP) target area.

  • The pilot program received one-time funding of $240,000.  To qualify a person must be:
    • A full-time city employee.
    • A 1st time home buyer purchasing a home within the San Antonio city limits.
    • Able to qualify for a mortgage loan through their bank or another financial institution with reasonable loan terms.
    • Purchase a single family home, condominium, or vacant lot in the ICRIP target area where a new home can be built.  The home must be the employee’s homestead.

Employees can receive $5,000 to $10,000 deferred loan down payment and closing costs depending on the home’s location in the center city.  The loan is a 0% loan and 20% of the loan is forgiven annually over a 5 year period provided the employee remains with the City.

To date Twelve (12) City employees have purchased a house with assistance from HOPE.

  • Nine (9) of those are within the CRAG or the original 36 square miles of the City and received $10,000 in assistance.
  • Three (3) are within the ICRIP target area and received $5,000 in assistance.
  • The average sales price for the 12 loans is $106,118.
  • And we anticipate that 3 more will close within the next 30 days.

As of today, the available balance available for assistance is approximately $93k

The Center City Development Office administers and markets the program, while the Planning & Community Development executes and monitors the grants as well as conducts the home buyer classes.

Currently 82 city employees have begun the process of HOPE Program and are in various stages of completion.

Bond Transactions – Refinancing Savings

On Tuesday, June 4th we  Refinanced the Starbright Industrial Development Corporation Contract Revenue Bonds and Achieved interest cost savings.  The Bonds were originally sold in 2003 to provide funds for land and site preparation costs and a training facility for the Toyota plant site.  Debt service payments for the Bonds are paid from the General Fund.

The Bonds are rated “AA+”,“Aa1”, and “AA+” by Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Services, Inc., and Standard and Poor’s Ratings, respectively.  These ratings were affirmed on May 28th for this bond refinancing.

On Tuesday, June 4th, the Bonds in the amount of $20,890,000 were priced by a syndicate led by Loop Capital Markets, LLC, who served as Senior Book Running Manager; and SAMCO Capital Markets, Inc., who served as Co-Manager.

The refunding transaction produced total savings of $2,002,193 with upfront savings of $926,923 in FY 2014, $925,858 in FY 2015, and $103,115 in FY 2016.  Net present value savings on the transaction was $1,872,715 or 8.78% of the refunded obligations.  The true interest cost on the transaction, which represents the total cost of obtaining debt financing on this bond transaction is 3.85%.

This refinancing transaction which produced significant interest cost savings is another example of the City’s proactive debt management. We actively monitor all of our outstanding debt looking for opportunities to lower our cost of borrowing.  Since April 2012, the City has completed 5 refunding transactions for interest cost savings resulting in Total Gross Savings of $39.9 million and Net Present Value savings of $32.6 million.

This is great news for San Antonio residents as these refinancings lower the interest costs that the City pays on the money we have borrowed.

This transaction included the services of: Coastal Securities, Inc. and Estrada Hinojosa & Company, Inc., as the Co-Financial Advisors, and McCall, Parkhurst & Horton L.L.P. and Escamilla, Poneck & Cruz, LLP, as the Co-Bond Counsel.

Community Budget Hearings

We have begun the development of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Process and we are seeking input from the Community before we prepare the City’s proposed budget.  Community participation is a key component of developing the City’s budget that reflects the service priorities of San Antonio residents

Since 2006, we have conducted community budget meetings across the city to obtain comments on the City’s proposed budget.  Each year about 700 residents attend these meetings.  Last year, we hosted five city-wide meetings throughout the City before the budget was proposed.  This year we will continue this practice.

Starting on June 10, five city-wide Community budget input meetings will be held to obtain input and feedback from the residents on the Community’s priorities as we begin developing the FY 2014 Budget.

The meetings will be held across the City to include the Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, North Central, and Northeast areas.  At these meetings a brief video highlighting the major city services will be shown.  Following the video, residents will participate in small groups discussing higher and lesser priority service areas for the upcoming fiscal year.  Here is a full schedule of the meetings.

Input received at these meetings will be summarized and provided to the City Council at the June 25 Goal Setting Session.  This report will also be available on the City’s website.

The FY 2014 Budget will be presented to City Council on August 8, 2013.  After the budget is proposed, residents will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed budget at five additional city-wide Community Budget Input hearings scheduled across the City and two City-wide Budget Public hearings at City Council chambers.

Residents also can provide us with input at any time during the budget process through the Budget Input Box available on the City’s website and at the Budget Input Boxes located at City Libraries, Senior Centers and City Hall.

We encourage our San Antonio residents to participate in the development of the City’s FY 2014 budget by attending these meetings.