By Kristian Jaime
As the Alamo City prepares for its exponential growth in the coming decade, City Hall is preparing by addressing infrastructure.
The bond program allows the City to make major investments in basic infrastructure, such as streets, sidewalks, drainage and other community facilities. The 2017 – 2022 Bond Program is anticipated to be $850 million.
City staff, in consultation with other City departments, Mayor and City Council Offices, public and private agencies, as well as residents, developed the list of recommended projects.
“Like our past two bonds in 2007 and 2012, this focuses on basic infrastructure needs in the city. So more than half of the money will be directed to streets and sidewalks. Our current tally is over $1 billion dollars worth of streets that need work to be done,” said Jeff Coyle, Director of Public Affairs for the City of San Antonio.
In publicly held budget meetings throughout the year, San Antonio residents have more than enough opportunity to voice the needs of the seventh largest city in the nation. Chief among them was street and sidewalk improvements.
The rest of the expected $850 million will be earmarked for drainage and flood control projects in areas of the city often quickly inundated during torrential storms.
“Parks and recreation will also receive funds since this is how we improve parks and acquire property,” said Coyle. “There is also money set aside for facilities like public libraries and fire stations. The last section is new to us which is neighborhood improvement projects to go to street lights and demolition in specific areas.”
According to Coyle, this bond package is in line with the comprehensive vision of the SA Tomorrow plan.
With over a million new residents expected by 2040, planning for the future starts with identifying growth centers in the city and revitalizing the urban core inside the 410 Loop and historic neighborhoods.
Much of the investment is to also make San Antonio more attractive for people to relocate for either jobs or an affinity for life in South Texas.
“Infrastructure is not always the most exciting focus, but it is what everyone demands. It’s really where local government and people intersect. In turn, the last two bond programs have passed with over 70 percent of voters approving it,” Coyle explained.
With the vote scheduled for May, there is no shortage of projects that demand attention. Yet not all municipal bonds are created equal. The proposed projects come from the city-appointed committees and public input. Sessions included bilingual translators and San Antonio City Council still must vote to put this on the ballot seven months from now.
Staying ahead of the needs of the Alamo City is near impossible, but Coyle assures voters that just underscores the need for public input.
“We can’t possibly address everything we would like to, but this is a healthy bond program that included many high priorities. Even after this, there will be many things we will need. At this point we’re doing this every five years,” concluded Coyle.
The total sum is only available due to the AAA Bond Rating the city enjoys thanks to a streamlined municipal budget. That also means that property taxes will not rise as a result should it pass.
With many expecting this to be approved by voters, the “city on the rise” will also start to look that way thanks to capital improvements.