San Antonio Spells Out Priorities for Coming Legislative Session

By August 18, 2016 January 25th, 2017 News Clips

The City of San Antonio has released its list of priorities for the upcoming session of the Legislature, and several of them involve maximizing the city’s opportunity to put its hand into your wallet, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The number one priority spelled out by City Intergovernmental Relations Director Jeff Coyle during a special Council work session on Wednesday is to try to stop any attempt to give you any say whatsoever on whether you or your property should be annexed by the City.

“We don’t believe that the authority should be taken away form local officials, and you are authorized to make decisions on behalf of the City,” Coyle told City Council.

A measure that would have allowed citizens who are in areas tagged for annexation passed the Texas House last session but died in the Senate.  Supporters argue that annexing an individual without his or her consent is an unconstitutional ‘taking’ of property, and point out that there is no shortage of homes for sale inside the city and the people who chose to live outside the city could have bought one of them if they wanted to be inside the city limits.

Opponents of allowing people to vote on annexation say high density rural developments, like the ones the city is looking to annex along I-10 on the northwest side, would not exist were it for the city, which is where many people who live in these neighborhoods work, shop, and go for recreation.

Coyle said another priority will be to get the Legislature to allow the city to level higher taxes to pay for mass transit.

“For the City Council and or the voters to be able to consider other taxes and fees to generate funding that might be able to address our transportation needs,” Coyle said.

A City Council committee recently turned aside a controversial and possibly illegal proposal to take funding from the city under the 2004 Advanced Transportation District program and give it to VIA Metro transit for improved service.  Council said new methods of providing a continuing flow of money to VIA establish the type of bus service that would prompt middle class commuters to get out of their cars are limited, largely because the city’s sales tax is not maxes out at 8 1/4%, which is the highest  allowed by the Legislature.

The City will also work to try to defeat decreases in the ‘roll back rate,’ which is the level of an effective tax rate which automatically prompts an election.  Efforts to lower the roll back rate, which would mean more effective tax increases would have to be approved by voters, have been mounted to attempt to blunt the impact of skyrocketing property appraisals, which mean citizens pay more in property taxes without the elected City Council members having to take the uncomfortable step of approving a property tax rate increase.

Other priorities for the city include taking additional steps to protect militarybases, and to fight any ‘religious freedom’ bills which would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals or same sex couples.  Coyle says those measures have been proven to be detrimental to a city’s ability to attract new employers or major events like sports championships.

The Legislature meets January 10.

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