Weekly Report

Preservation Education Program
The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) developed a 4th through 12th grade education project. The programming uses local heritage resources to help students better understand history and the importance of historic places in San Antonio. The New Frontiers Charter School (NFCS) has embraced the program and has begun to institute within their curriculum. The NFCS project will culminate in a Preservation Month in May photo exhibit celebrating places that students have selected as their personal “landmarks”. Activities like this are made possible through a grant from the Power of Preservation Foundation and the Innovation grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The project exemplifies teamwork and innovation, not only with OHP but also across the city as the program’s outreach currently includes organizations such as the National Park Service, in addition to the NFCS. The innovative program will cultivate and nurture a new generation of city stewards while also meeting the needs of students to fill core curriculum requirements.

After School Challenge Program – Proposed Legislation
Proposed Legislation HB 788 would amend regulation of child care facilities operating within the school district facilities. Recently filed language proposes to no longer exempt school districts from licensing requirements of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. School districts would be required to pay an annual license fee of $37 per child per facility to the State. Additionally, the transition of monitoring oversight of these programs from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services would increase regulations related to the minimum child to staff ratios, facility standards, and other requirements. If approved, the proposed legislation may have a negative impact on the After School Challenge program and create an administrative and financial burden for the school districts. The City’s Department of Human Services has provided feedback to Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) regarding HB 788 and requested input from school districts.

Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA)
The 25th Annual TTIA Unity Dinner was held in Austin, Texas on February 24. More than 60 San Antonio tourism partners, stakeholders, and legislators attended to demonstrate and communicate the importance of the travel and tourism industry. Total attendance was at 1,000. An additional 100 San Antonio partners and stakeholders traveled to Austin the following day to join the San Antonio delegation and participate in Converge on the Capitol. The team met with State legislators to share the top priorities of the Texas travel and tourism industry during this legislative session.

HOPE Program
The Home Ownership Program for Employees (HOPE) provides City employees with a forgivable loan if they purchase a home within the Community Revitalization Action Group (CRAG) area. On March 3, the program closed on a home loan that will utilize the balance of funding for the program. With this closing, a total of 29 loans will have been made to City employees to assist home ownership within the center city. The Center City & Downtown Operations (CCDO) is working with area employers to expand the program and encourage downtown businesses to offer a similar housing incentive to their employees.

UTSA Research Collaboration Request
A proposal was submitted by Dina V. Krasikova, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at UTSA, to collaborate with the City of San Antonio on a study about relationships between leaders and followers. The goal of this study is to understand what supervisors and subordinates can do to build a strong, supportive, and long-lasting work relationship that will benefit both of them and their organization. The study is intended to help management researchers and practitioners better understand what can be done to improve supervisor-subordinate relationship at the early stages of its development. The city will identify 100 newly formed supervisor-subordinate pairs to participate in the study. Dr. Krasikova and a doctoral student will distribute surveys, collect responses, analyze data and provide a final report to the City of San Antonio summarizing the results of the study.

Collective Bargaining and Safe Soil Update

I am providing  an update on two important issues:  the City’s recent contract offer to the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA); and the City’s removal of safe soil from the Convention Center expansion project.

On February 20, 2015, the City’s and SAPOA’s negotiating teams returned to the bargaining table to discuss a new Collective Bargaining Agreement replacing the one that expired on September 30, 2014. The City offered a proposed contract that includes among other items the following major points:

  • Pay raises for all police officers each of the next three and half years totaling 9.5%;
  • Officers sharing in the cost of healthcare coverage; sworn personnel would continue to be covered with no premiums for employees; employees would be required to pay premiums for their dependents;
  • Taxpayer-funded legal fund phase-out over three years;
  • Revision/elimination of the “evergreen clause” that perpetuates the contract for ten years after expiration.

The City’s proposal would keep public safety expenditures at less than 66% of the General Fund budget. We believe this offer is very reasonable, and we are optimistic that we are moving towards a resolution. The next collective bargaining sessions are scheduled for March 17 and 20, 2015.  Attached is a summary of the City’s labor proposal to SAPOA.

The second item to share with you is about the safe soil at the Convention Center.  In late 2013 and early 2014 the City removed 150,000 cubic yards of soil from the Convention Center expansion site and placed it on a City-owned property off Highway 151 that is zoned for business park development. The soil was not structurally sound to handle the weight of the new Convention Center building. Two different environmental engineering firms, Geo Strata and Raba Kistner Inc., determined that the soil excavated from the Convention Center property does not exceed regulatory standards for residential or commercial development as established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). In other words, the soil is safe enough to use for backyards, ball fields and gardens in any neighborhood community. The data in the two reports does not conflict on this critical point.

Where the environmental reports differ is in the narrative recommendations made by the consultants. Geo Strata, working for the Convention Center contractor, recommended that the soil either be used in place at the Convention Center or taken to a landfill for disposal. This would have cost an estimated $6 million and resulted in approximately 150,000 cubic yards of residential-grade soil being unnecessarily deposited in a landfill.

City staff questioned this conclusion and utilized Raba Kistner, Inc.  to perform a more thorough Environmental Assessment. While the Geo Strata study was limited to nine soil samples for the soil that was excavated, the Raba Kistner Inc. assessment added another 58 soil samples for a total of 67 samples from the excavated soil. The City’s study performed by Raba Kistner, Inc. was a more comprehensive assessment, and it too, indicated that the soils were appropriate for re-use instead of being taken to a landfill.

Nonetheless, I have directed the City’s Metro Health Department to oversee an independent review to test the soil at the new location. The City has hired Weston Solutions to test the soil now in place at the City-owned property at Highway 151 and expects the study to be completed within four weeks. A representative of the nearby San Antonio Food Bank was a member of the staff panel that selected Weston Solutions.

Additionally, Metro Health commissioned the Southwest Research Institute to test vegetables and topsoil from the community garden at the San Antonio Food Bank. The tests confirmed that there are no elevated levels of minerals in the soil and the vegetables are safe for consumption. An independent study commissioned by the San Antonio Food Bank reached the same conclusion.

We regret that we did not better inform our community partners in advance of moving the soil, but please be assured that the soil is safe and we are exercising an abundance of caution to demonstrate that fact to the community.

Weekly Report

State of the State
Governor Abbott made his State of the State address on February 17. The Governor declared the following five issues as emergency items for legislative action, which allows the legislature to take a floor vote on related legislation before the 60-day constitutional moratorium that bars floor votes in the first 60 days of the session.

  1. Higher Education
  2. Higher Education Research Initiatives
  3. Transportation Funding
  4. Border Security Funding
  5. Ethics Reform

The Governor called for more than $4 billion a year to build more roads without raising taxes, fees, tolls or debt. Governor Abbott also called for making the Texas Enterprise Zone more efficient, effective and transparent.

State Run Off Election Results
With the election of Diego Bernal to House District 123, the City’s delegation gains a committee spot on the House Urban Affairs and International Trade & International Affairs Committees. It is expected for incoming State Senator Jose Menendez to serve as a member of the Senate Higher Education, Criminal Justice and Intergovernmental Relations Committees. The election results will be canvassed on March 3, and will be sworn into the Senate on March 6. The vacant seat in the House will now require a special election. A date has not been identified for the special election as this time.

Pre K 4 SA Student Enrollment
As of Friday, February 20, Pre –K 4 SA has over 1,200 student applications.

EastPoint Neighborhood Sweep
City staff is coordinating with several City departments and agencies (EastPoint, Animal Care Services, CPS Energy, Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI), Police, Fire, Code Enforcement, Metro Health and Solid Waste) a “Neighborhood Sweeps Program” within the four square mile area of the EastPoint neighborhood. The Sweep will take place in March and is intended to be a 30 day concentration of City services that will result in a cleaner, safer and healthier community. During the past two weeks, CPS Energy has repaired over 100 streetlights in the community. CPS Energy also committed to send its Customer Response Unit to neighborhood meetings and events to promote its affordability and energy efficiency programs and address any billing questions.

Strategic Multi-Modal Transportation Plan
The City’s three growth-related plans (Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Plan & Sustainability Plan) have been branded “SA Tomorrow”. Kick-off event is scheduled for Saturday, April 11 at the Alamo Convocation Center from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Social media has been activated to begin outreach leading up to the April 11 event. Invites to the Mayor and Council are also forthcoming.

Promise Zone Economic Development Plan
San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) was awarded $500,000 by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in August 2014 for the development of an Economic Development Plan for the eastside of San Antonio. HR&A was hired to develop an economic development strategy for the Promise Zone. The plan will consist of: identification and development of strategies for six business development opportunities in the Promise Zone, identification of a transited oriented development, and identification of a site to develop an “EastPoint” commercial tower.

Historic House Specialist Realtor Training
The Office of Historic Preservation held its annual Historic House Specialist Realtor Training this past Friday, February 20 at the historic Woodward House, home of the Women’s Club of San Antonio. The sold out event was attended by an enthusiastic group of more than 60 realtors and professionals. Sessions led by staff covered the fundamentals of historic preservation, the Vacant Building Registration program, and information about historic building materials and construction methods.  There were also presentations about historic house styles and preservation as tool for sustainability.  Participants received continued education hours through San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR).

FY 2015 Performance Measures Report

The City is committed to delivering services to the community in an efficient and effective manner. The FY 2015 1st Quarter Performance Measures Report allows us to evaluate results and makes us accountable and transparent to the residents of San Antonio.

Since 2012 the City has received the Performance Measurement Certificate of Excellence Award from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)

This ICMA award recognizes superior performance management programs and rewards transparency. San Antonio is just one of 29 jurisdictions to receive this high level of recognition.

The full report is available here.


Weekly Report

EastPoint Shine
On Saturday, March 14 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. the Office of EastPoint and Choice Neighborhoods, in collaboration with the City’s Volunteer Division, will host the “EastPoint Shine” event, which is a paint-a-thon to paint 15-20 homes throughout the Choice footprint. The houses to be painted will be prioritized for elderly, disabled, veterans and low-income. Each house selected will be fully prepped by a San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) contractor and ready for a paint facelift by the volunteers. All paint, brushes, and tools needed to paint the exterior of the home will be provided by the San Antonio Housing Authority.

Consolidated Plan
The Department of Planning and Community Development in conjunction with the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) is developing the City’s Five Year Consolidated Plan which assesses affordable housing, community development, and current market conditions in order to establish funding priorities and a framework for the utilization of an estimated $80M in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) formula grant resources including CDBG Home. DPCD staff has developed a citizen engagement strategy which includes both a paper and online community survey, consultation with external stakeholders, and four public hearings at public hearings across the four quadrants of the city.

Hemisfair Water Street P3
Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) initiated a P3 process at the Water Street site, adjacent to the Yanaguana Garden and playground. After reviewing five proposals, the selection committee selected AREA Real Estate, which proposed a mixed-use project with 163 units, 3,200 square feet of restaurant/retail space and a 418 space structured parking garage. The project includes 40% of the units for workforce housing along with a projected annual revenue stream to Hemisfair of approximately $390,000.

Valero Alamo Bowl Economic Impact
According to a survey conducted by Strategic Marketing Services and SportsEconomics, on behalf of the Valero Alamo Bowl, the 2015 Valero Alamo Bowl generated $45.9 million in total economic impact. This figure is based on direct visitor spending of $26.5 million in San Antonio. The 49,580 out-of-town visitors attending the bowl game between #11 Kansas State and #14 UCLA was the third highest total in Valero Alamo Bowl history and the most visitors since 2007.

College Football Playoff National Championship Game – Request for Proposal
On February 9, the Convention, Sports and Entertainment Facilities (CSEF) received the Request for Proposal for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game (2018-2020 games). The RFP is due on May 27, with an anticipated announcement of the winning host communities in October.

Digital Wallpaper at the Convention Center
Last month, the Library installed a Digital Wallpaper at the Convention Center. The wall is at the south end of the Hall of Statues on the concourse level. The content is geared to locals and out of town conventioneers.

Fitness in the Park – La Villita
In partnership with Parks and Recreation, the Department of Culture and Creative Development (DCCD) began hosting Fitness in the Park activities at La Villita. Two free 30-minute low impact classes will be offered every Tuesday through March in Plaza Juarez starting at 1:30 p.m.

Senior Nutrition Produce Market
On January 30, the Senior Nutrition Program and Selrico held a produce market at the Doris Griffin One Stop Senior. Over 300 seniors attended and purchased over 2,100 pounds of seasonal produce for a minimal cost of $1.00 per basket. This event experienced more than double the amount purchased at the first Produce Market held on November 14, 2014. The produce is supplied by River City produce. DHS and Selrico are expanding the program to offer two produce markets a month at various senior centers throughout the city.

City Employee Wellness Tours
The City employee Fall Wellness Tour was conducted October 20 – November 19 at 38 City department locations. A total of 2,357 flu shots were administered to civilian and uniformed employees. In addition, 1,689 civilian employees elected to participate in biometric screenings which included height, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, total cholesterol, glucose, body fat analysis and educational health literature.

Aviation Update

The San Antonio International Airport was recognized in the 2014 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards as Best Improved Airport in North America by Airports Council International. The award represents passengers’ views on 34 key service indicators.  Also, in 2014, the San Antonio International airport experienced increased passenger traffic totaling 8.37 million passengers, an increase of 1.4% from 2013.  In addition to increase in passenger traffic, other air service enhancements were made including:

  • Volaris and Interjet each began twice weekly non-stop flights (for a total of four) to Guadalajara, Mexico. Due to strong demand in 2014, Volaris increased the weekly frequencies from two to three. The airport now has service to four of Mexico’s major business markets (Mexico City, Toluca, Monterrey and Guadalajara). The Monterrey route also saw increased air services. VivaAerobus re-entered the market and began four weekly non-stop flights. Interjet recently announced that it is also increasing non-stop frequencies from twice a week to six times a week.
  • On October 2, 2014, American Airlines began twice daily non-stop service to Los Angeles, California.

Further complimenting the aviation services experienced in 2014, additional air services are scheduled with American Airlines offering non-stop service to Miami, Florida beginning in March 2015.  Southwest Airlines will begin daily non-stop flights to New Orleans and daily non-stop service to Cancun, Mexico. Delta recently announced it will begin Los Angeles non-stop service with two daily frequencies in April. This route is also served by Southwest and United Airlines.

Finally, two major customer service projects will begin construction this year. Next month, the Transportation and Capital Improvements Department is expected to bring forward a City Council action to award contracts for the renovation and expansion of the Customs facility in Terminal A. Once completed, the Customs and Border Protection agency will be able to process up to 800 international passengers during peak hours. The expansion will help support our growing international service. The second project is the new consolidated rental car facility which will begin construction this summer. Once completed, visitors to San Antonio will be able to pick up their luggage at baggage claim and walk across the sky bridge to the new facility to pick up their rental car. The facility will also house public parking spaces for our local residents. A briefing to update the City Council on the rental car facility is scheduled for this spring.


8th Annual City Manager’s Step Up To Wellness 5K Run/Walk

In support of the City’s continued focus on Wellness, the 8th Annual City Manager’s Step Up To Wellness 5K Walk & Run, Will take place on Saturday, February 28 at SeaWorld San Antonio.

The City-hosted event is free of charge to all CITY employees and provides an opportunity to engage in healthy physical activity in a family-friendly atmosphere.  Employees’ family members can also participate in the event for a discounted rate of $7.00.  Additionally, the event is open to the public and a registration link is available here. The fee includes race entry, race packet, and customized t-shirt.  All participants will also have the opportunity to enjoy SeaWorld on race day for a discounted price.

The following health-related vendors will be in attendance at the event:

  • Metro Health’s “Por Vida” program
  • Parks & Recreation’s “Mobil Fit” unit
  •  Humana Vitality for seniors participating in City’s Advantage Plan

As of this week, we have over 2,300 participants surpassing last year’s attendance of 2,200

We look forward to an exciting event. For more information, contact Athlete Guild at 877-806-3987 or info@athleteguild.com

Collective Bargaining Update

I am providing another update on the City’s collective bargaining efforts with the public safety unions.

On December 1, 2014, Mayor Ivy R. Taylor called for independent third-party reviews of the financial impact of the most recent collective bargaining proposals made by the City and the police union, as well as an analysis of the legislative changes proposed by the Fire and Police Pension Fund. The City contracted with three independent national firms to conduct the reviews, and the firms presented their findings to the Mayor and City Council on Wednesday, January 28, 2015. The three professional firms included Public Financial Management (PFM), Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company (GRS), and Coastal Securities.

The analysis and findings of these three national firms strongly affirmed the City’s financial practices and projections, and stressed the connection between these financial practices and the City’s excellent credit rating. They confirmed to the City Council that the City had correctly calculated the costs of both City and police union wage and healthcare proposals.  Independent reviews verified that the proposal made by the police union would cost $50 million more than the City’s proposal, and would effectively “crowd out” spending for non-public safety services.  If the police union proposal were to be accepted, the City would have to make significant reductions to other core services, such as streets, parks and libraries or significantly increase property tax revenue.

The independent analysis provided to the City Council also evaluated the long-term costs associated with the proposed legislative changes made by the Fire and Police Pension Fund. These proposed changes could save money in the short-term, but would double the number of years it would take the City to eliminate the current unfunded pension liability. The analysis concluded that extending the number of years needed to pay the unfunded pension liability would cost the City an additional $172 million.

During the January 28th presentation, the independent firms communicated that San Antonio is the only city with a population of over one million with the highest credit rating possible, and that prudent financial management should be a cornerstone in the ongoing labor negotiations and in the evaluation of any uniform pension legislative changes.

Following the presentations, the City Council made it clear that contract negotiations should resume immediately. The City has proposed several meeting dates in February to resume collective bargaining. The police union has agreed to return to negotiate on February 20 and 26, 2015.

At the heart of the issue is the fact that public safety expenses are growing faster than general fund budget revenues. One of the escalating cost drivers to the general fund budget is public safety healthcare. The police union has proposed paying toward healthcare, but only in conjunction with salary increases far in excess of any annual healthcare premiums. The City has proposed a combination of employee healthcare premiums with modest wage increases keeping the public safety budget within the policy guidelines established by City Council and at no more than two-thirds of general fund spending.

We look forward to returning to negotiations with the police union to reach an agreement that is fair to our public safety uniform employees and is affordable to the residents of San Antonio.

Pre-K 4 SA Update

The Pre-K 4 SA program is a high quality early childhood program is funded by 1/8₵ sales tax that was approved by the voters in November 2012.

The Pre-K 4 SA business model includes:

1.  Four education center facilities serving 500 students each at full capacity with full day Pre-K instruction.

2.  Competitive grant awards to local independent school districts and other education providers to educate 1,700 children annually beginning in 2016.

3. Professional development for Pre-K through 3rd grade educators.

Pre-K 4 SA is governed by an eleven-member board of directors appointed the by City Council.  Our business model is one of partnering with seven independent school districts where we receive their four-year olds and state funding and in return we educate the students and provide their educators with professional development. The seven partnering school districts account for over 90% of all four-year old pre-k students in our area.

Pre-K 4 SA places a strong emphasis on family engagement in early education. Each Pre-K 4 SA education center has a staffed family resource center that provides families access to a wide range of resources including educational workshops, family oriented events, and individual family counseling.

Another important feature of our program includes a high quality after school enrichment program from 3:00pm to 6:00pm for working parents.

Finally our program offers free bus service through student bus depots strategically located throughout the city.

To gauge success in development and implementation of the program, Pre-K 4 SA has secured an eight-year agreement with Rutgers university’s Edvance research center to conduct an independent evaluation of our program on an annual basis. I will highlight their first year assessments shortly.

Student performance from year 1 (august 2013 to may 2014)
Pre-K 4 SA began in august 2013 with two education centers each serving 350 students for a total of 700 students. Pre-K 4 SA’s independent evaluator (Edvance) found that the students entering Pre-K 4 SA fell below the national standard for growth levels in cognitive, literacy, math, oral language, physical, and socio-emotional behavioral skills for their age.

However, after a year one evaluation of our program, not only did our students get up to speed, they passed a national peer group.

The year 1 evaluation found that students exceeded a nationally sample of students in cognitive, literacy, and math skills, and met the standard in oral language, physical skills, and socio-emotional behavior.

Student enrollment
Last week on February 2, Pre-K 4 SA began accepting applications for the new school year that will begin this august. The early application period will close on April 5 and on April 8  1,700 students will be selected by a lottery, we will also maintain a wait list.

As of February 12, the program had received over 1,000 student applications.

We expect to service 80% of students free of charge and 20% through sliding scale tuition payments this coming year.

Our learning environment at our four education centers are appropriate, and while it may appear our students are having fun, our students are focused on learning from our high quality early childhood curriculum.

Curriculum at the Pre-K 4 SA centers

Let me give you some examples of the curriculum that our students learned last month in three areas, math, science, and literacy.

Math focus: student learned counting, geometry, measurement, and patterns. Students created shapes, worked to recognize heights and lengths of people and objects, and sorted similar objects and patterns.

Science focus: students focused on physical science and the motion of objects and sources of energy. They learned about the characteristics of organisms, and life cycles. Students compared and discussed earth materials and their properties.

Literacy focus: students engaged in pre-reading and reading related activities; they combined syllables into words, and recognized letter sounds.

Upcoming council actions
There are two upcoming actions that city council will address:

According to the Pre-K 4 SA bylaws, the Pre-K board adopts the budget and the city council approves the board adopted budget. The current fiscal year budget is $32 million. The fiscal year for the program begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 each year. The board will consider adopting the new fiscal year budget in April and city council will consider approving the budget in may.

The Pre-K board is appointed by city council and serve staggered two-year terms. As a result odd numbered city council district positions and the Pre-K 4 SA board chair appointments will be considered by city council this year in april. The city council governance committee will select appointments in march, and city council will approve the appointments in April.

The Pre-k 4 SA program has had many successes in its early years. Pre-K 4 SA looks forward to continue providing a high quality early childhood learning program for the children of San Antonio.

Parks Technology Update

We’re excited to announce a new feature on the city’s website that makes it easier for residents to find and enjoy San Antonio Parks and Greenway Trails.  The Parks Department has worked with ITSD to create a “Find A Park” feature that will appear on the Parks and Recreation Department’s homepage as a colorful map icon.

Residents can search a map of the city to find a park by name, ZIP code, Council district, or near their address.  The map also allows residents to search for specific amenities such as greenway trailheads, pavilions, swimming pools, picnic areas, playgrounds, and many more.

City staff have been trained on how to use this new feature, in order to assist residents with questions.  The “Find A Park” tool launched just a few weeks ago, and is being promoted on the City’s homepage, the Parks Department’s main page, through social media, and in E-mail newsletters.

We encourage you to check out the “Find A Park” tool and discover all that our Parks system has to offer.