Recently some members of the Commissioners Court have called for budget parity and for the first time a cap on County Commissioners that has never existed.
Commissioner Clay-Flores stated the parity was good so that “one Commissioner didn’t run away with the budget process.”
An investigation of the Bexar County budget from 2017-2023 reveals, ironically, Precinct 1, under the leadership of both Commissioner Chico Rodriguez and Commissioner Rebeca Clay Flores, has received the lion’s share of County allocations for roads, drainage, and other infrastructure.
The sprawling Precinct 1 has the largest geographic territory and has been supported by the Commissioners Court as a whole.
But as other precincts face growth and challenges, a potential Court vote to limit budgetary needs on all precincts that are already getting less funding than Precinct 1, could have negative impacts on county services for the west, south, north, and eastern parts of Bexar County.
Bexar County’s budget has suffered from a lack of equity for many decades. Under the new County Judge, another impediment has occurred—a random cap of 10.5 million has been imposed without any transparent process.
From 2017 – 2023 the following shows the allocations and breakdowns that reflect neither parity nor equity in the categories of roads, flood control, parks, creeks, and trails.
ROAD breakdown from
Precinct 1: $122,624,403.00
Precinct 2: $48,401,740.00
Precinct 3: $69,323,676.00
Precinct 4: $47,935,348.00
The number of road miles the county maintains in each precinct is the following Precinct 1: 754.3 miles
Precinct 2: 177.8 miles
Precinct 3: 317.4 miles
Precinct 4: 349.7 miles
FLOOD CONTROL ALLOCATIONS 2021-2022:
Precinct 1: $62,798,800.00
Precinct 2: $32,028,900.00
Precinct 3: $8,435,000.00
Precinct 4: $7,500,000.00
PARK ALLOCATIONS 2021-2022:
Precinct 1: $14,991,980.00
Precinct 2: $12,000,000.00
Precinct 3: $16,425,000.00
Precinct 4: $14,600,000.00
As a whole, Precinct 1 received:
• $205 million more than Precinct 2
• $171 million more than Precinct 3; and,
• $158 million more than Precinct 4
As the County pie given out for capital infrastructure is divided, the County has given about $1,064,000,000 in totality Precinct 1 has 38% of the budget of the pie, Precinct 2 has 18%, Precinct 3 has 21%, Precinct 4 receives 23%.
But some parts of the budget have more stark disparities like in flood control dollars.
In parts of Bexar County that were starved for many generations for people living on the west, south, and east sides, and while dollars made their way to some parts of the south and far west, the precinct breakdown does not demonstrate parity in county budgeting over the last five years and it is only going to get worse with a so-called “parity” budget.
“ This random cap creates even more disparity and I never anticipated this would be proposed and I do not understand what the end game is other than to shackle me,” explained County Commissioner Tommy Calvert.
Calvert continued, “There is nothing broken in the manner by which I have championed causes that help us create jobs, reduce homelessness and blight, and save lives. But all of these requests are on the chopping block if the Court does not approve the community organization’s requests. There will be a change order to include these non-profits presented on September 11, 2023.”
Commissioner Calvert represents downtown and the majority of non-profit organizations located in the center of the city, the Pearl, northeast Bexar County, and South Central and Southeast Bexar County.
He explained, “The constructive thing to do is to get these allocations into the departmental budgets and the county budget ahead of time so that we don’t reach a contentious budget process but the current budget process has been unnecessarily tense this year, and proposing a random budget cap has shed light on the enormity of the inequity experienced by the community countywide.”
In addition, the County staff is going to cost millions more in construction and labor costs by postponing the dollars needed to construct a new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Brooks until the 2025 budget.
The Manufacturing Association of San Antonio has lobbied and county staff have spent significant dollars on airplane and hotel tickets to other cities to research an advanced manufacturing training center at Brooks.
One of the major goals is to help Bexar County get a second Toyota manufacturing vehicle product line.
The delay pushed by the County Manager’s office and the Facilities Department of Bexar County could cost taxpayers upwards of 40 percent on materials costs and labor. We face inflation in construction causing estimates given today to be unusable if the project is not budgeted by the County until 2025.
“In the private sector, time is money. If we treated the public tax dollars the same way we treat private businesses, we would never put a much-needed manufacturing training center on the shelf for another year. I am calling for this budget to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars,” explained Commissioner Calvert, the senior member of the Bexar County Commissioners Court.
Many business leaders are worried that having the County manager postpone San Antonio’s manufacturing training center will practically mean that other cities with training centers will be able to market a pipeline of talent that San Antonio has to catch up to.
Commissioner Tommy Calvert is advocating that the center funding be in the budget now. However, the random cap imposed has put that job-creating center on the chopping block.
“I will never stop advocating for what is right for the people of Bexar County. If people believe the County should fund these projects, they should come to Commissioners Court on Monday, September 11th at 1:30 p.m. and let the Court know.
Commissioner Calvert concluded “I’ve delivered seven balanced budgets and I am constitutionally bound to deliver an eighth balanced budget now. But these Bexar County facts have brought to light that we need to balance our inequities and disparities in Bexar County too.”