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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.

Flood Clean-Up and Repair Work Schedule

A Preliminary Flood Clean-Up and Repair Work Schedule has been developed in response to the storms experienced May 25.  This initial assessment and corresponding work schedule includes work identified for street repairs and debris removal, drainage facility repairs and cleaning, repairs to alleys, and repairs to park facilities.  The Schedule will be updated daily to reflect additional identified and requested work.

The Flood Damage Assessment and Repair Schedule now is available for public access and review on the City’s website here.

This work schedule will provide residents an opportunity to see when Public Works, Solid Waste, Parks & Recreation, and other City crews will be mobilizing in affected areas to repair damages caused by the flood event.

City crews have been redirected from normal operations to focus on addressing damages caused by the flood event to ensure quick responses to all service requests.

San Antonio residents who discover new flood damage in and around their neighborhoods should continue to report the damage to the City by calling 3-1-1.

The Mayor and County Judge have signed a Disaster Declaration asking the State and Federal Government to provide the resources to repair our damaged infrastructure as well as provide assistance to those residents who experienced flood damage to their homes.  Staff is continuing to track and assemble all costs associated with our response and repair.

San Antonio Police Department Update

San Antonio has seen a decrease in crime throughout the city from Jan 1, 2012 to May 2 , 2013.

  • Overall, total violent crime has seen a decrease by 10.2%
  • Property Crimes have seen a decrease of 16%
  • Capital murder has decreased 59%

Pursuit Policy: The Department has recently completed a comprehensive review of their rules and procedure governing vehicle pursuits and emergency vehicle operations.  Based on feedback from SAPD personnel and an expert consultant, these regulations have been updated to reflect the latest research on best practices.

SWAT: The SAPD SWAT Team has also recently competed in the Central Texas CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) Challenge. The CERT Challenge is a tactical skills competition event open to all law enforcement, corrections, and military.  The SAPD team won four of five events, including an individual CERT Elite competition.

South Side Lions Park Wi-Fi

Citizens are now able to use free Wi-Fi at South Side Lions Park. Wi-Fi is now available inside the community center and nearby playground and in the playground and pavilion area on the lake off Pecan Valley Drive.

This important initiative, spearheaded by District 3 Councilwoman Leticia Ozuna who first announced it in February, gives youngsters living in the area the opportunity to bring their laptops and other electronic devices to the Wi-Fi hot spots and connect to the Internet to complete homework, check college Blackboards for assignments, and connect with friends and family via social media. Citizens who want to research and apply for jobs and enjoy other on-line pastimes benefit from it as well.

The initiative also complements free Wi-Fi service offered at the Woodlawn Lake Park Community Room, which opened in December. There, citizens may also bring their laptops and electronic devices to access the Internet in the community room located adjacent to Woodlawn Gymnasium.

Providing Wi-Fi is another of the many ways that the City of San Antonio seeks to be responsive and instep with the needs of citizens who utilize technology to provide better lives for themselves and their families.

Alamodome Economic Impact Study

In conjunction with the capital improvement budget in 2007, the Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Department conducted a study of the economic impact of the Alamodome that covered a five year period from 2003 – 2007. This period was chosen since 2003 was the first year after the Spurs left the Alamodome.  Recently, we asked economist Dr. Steve Niven, with the Saber Research Institute, to update this report to cover the ten-year period from 2003 through 2012.  Below are some key highlights from the report showing the economic impact of the Alamodome over the last ten years:

  • Overall economic impact – $1,719,846,985
  • Supported 18,337 full-time equivalent jobs (1,833/yr)
    • Earnings to workers of $572,007,629 (includes benefits)
  • Economic impact to state and local government – $114,193,411
  • Economic impact to federal government – $116,172,683
  • Average daily spending per out-of-town visitor – $257.80

Through its ability to host numerous events and activities, it is clear the Alamodome registered a substantial impact from 2003 through 2012 – over $1.7 billion.

This year also marks a significant milestone for the Alamodome, as it celebrates its 20th Anniversary.  To commemorate this, we will host a celebration at the Alamodome at the end of May.

Convention & Visitors Bureau Update

San Antonio Convention Visitors Bureau reached a significant milestone as the new was officially launched to the public as part of the weeklong National Travel and Tourism Week Celebration that occurred last week May 4th – May 12th.

San Antonio is both a national and international destination welcoming 28 million visitors annually.  San Antonio is the number one leisure destination in the State helping to position Texas as the 3rd most visited State in the U.S.

Visitors have an annual economic impact of $12 Billion and is a powerful tool utilized in marketing San Antonio.

This effort comes as a result of the San Antonio Convention Visitors Bureau partnership with Proof Advertising, who led the overall effort & showcased their skill-set in: Tourism, Digital Media, Web Development, Social Media and Project Management.

Initial reactions by our stakeholders are very positive as San Antonio proves to be at the cutting edge with technology and social media trends. SACVB launched to 100 stakeholders and media last week – some of the feedback included that the new website made stakeholders very proud of how it represented the City, and that they would be using it in their own itinerary planning.

This is a new innovative approach that will continue to place San Antonio in a leadership position amongst leisure and convention destinations.

Office of Historic Preservation – Preservation Month 2013

May is National Preservation Month, and the Office of Historic Preservation has hosted several educational events to encourage San Antonio to “See, Save, Celebrate!” our city’s historic resources.

The State of Preservation Announcement and Preservation Month Kick-off Event was held on Tuesday, April 30, at Mission Concepcion.

The third annual Amazing Preservation Race took place on Friday, May 10, with nearly 100 people participating in a downtown urban scavenger hunt combining trivia and San Antonio history.   Participants (in teams of four) used clues to find historic destinations throughout downtown while racing to the finish line at La Villita.

The Go! Historic SA Guided Tour of HemisFair Park and La Villita took volunteer tour guides took groups of runners and walkers to historic sites throughout HemisFair Park and La Villita, promoting historic preservation and physical fitness.

Additional upcoming activities for Preservation Month include the Amazing Preservation Race for Kids on Saturday, May 18, in partnership with the San Antonio Conservation Society and Villa Finale.

This free scavenger hunt for elementary age children will teach participants about the history of the King William neighborhood and the basics of architecture and preservation while encouraging physical activity.

The Center City Open House showcasing the Melrose Building at W. Commerce St. will take place on Tuesday, May 28.  Hosted by the Center City Development Office, the Office of Historic Preservation, and the Department for Culture and Creative Development, this unique networking opportunity will showcase an underutilized space and encourage investment in San Antonio’s vacant historic buildings.

These events help to promote the importance of historic preservation and the significance of protecting our pride of place, our sense of community, and the rich history and culture of San Antonio.