Scott Ball / Rivard Report
With surplus funds on the table, City Council unanimously approved several mid-year requests, including a one-time, $121,500 payment to San Antonio B-Cycle from the Hotel Occupancy Tax and Energy Efficiency funds.
This money will go to San Antonio Bike Share, the nonprofit that operates B-Cycle here. The payment will cover a salary for its executive director, marketing efforts, and rent for on year. Bike World co-owner Cindi Snell has served as the unpaid executive director of Bike Share San Antonio since its launch in 2011, but advised the board at its last meeting that she was resigning.
After years of balancing what had become two full-time jobs, Snell told B-Cycle board members during a meeting last month that she would step down later this year. Much of her frustration stems from the nonprofit’s lack of success winning corporate sponsorships, which underwrite the bikeshare programs in other U.S. cities. B-Cycle has quickly become a popular transportation alternative and recreational amenity in the urban core, but it has operated on a bare bones budget and depended on pro bono support services.
Snell was not available for comment Thursday, but previously has said that San Antonio B-Cycle will raise about $450,000 in 2015 from all sources, including riders, and will need $750,000 a year to service the expanded 76-station system.
The City’s contribution may be enough to sustain B-Cycles short-term, a stopgap measure while longer-term solutions and funding are sought.
(Read more: San Antonio Could Lose Bikeshare, Too)
But Wait, There’s More:
Based on actual revenues and payments during the first six months of fiscal year 2015, which started Oct. 1, the City has found that it could allocate more money to projects and initiatives that the City Council prioritizes. During its meeting Wednesday night, City Council set these priorities with staff. Click here to read more from B Session.
City Budget Director Maria Villagomez explained that these funds could be saved until the end of the year as a sort of safety net or be spent on various projects. The Council elected to use the money for:
General Fund Budget
- Animal Care Services enhancement – $200,000 for spay and neuter surgeries and $150,000 for community outreach
- Body cameras for police officers – $320,000
- SA2020 grant match – $150,000
- My Brother’s Keeper Program – $80,000
- Claude Black Youth Leadership summer employment program challenge – $50,000
- Education Strategic Plan – $50,000
Non-General Fund (From Restricted Funds)
- Pedestrian Safety Improvement Plan – $1 million
- B-Cycle – $121,500
- Workforce Development with Alamo Colleges – $100,000
- Cybersecurity (For one staff position at San Antonio Chamber of Commerce) – $100,000
- Ella Austin’s emergency plumbing repairs – $15,000
Capital Budget (From Completed Capital Projects)
- Springvale Street Project at Lackland Air Force Base entrance and Airmen Training Complex – $1 million
- Pedestrian crossing at Floyd Curl – $180-225,000
- Park Security at Greenway Trail System – $100,000
Gunfire Detector Will Have to Wait
In an effort to get funding for ShotSpotter – a system that instantly detects gunshots and helps law enforcement, military and other security personnel to verify and trace the source of gunfire more quickly – Councilmember Alan Warrick II (D2) suggested that money be taken out of the Animal Care Services enhancement to pay for the program. Fellow council members agreed that the system is needed, but not at the expense of any other the other items on the above list.
“I think I was a little bit hasty on removing funds from (ACS),” Warrick said.
Referring to the shootings in the Eastside on MLK Day, he said, “If this were happening in your district, I think you would feel as I feel.”
San Antonio Police Chief Anthony Treviño lauded the system as sometimes gunfire is not reported by neighbors out of fear or because an assumption that someone else will.
“All the tools and resources you want to give me, I’ll take them. It’s a matter of what we can afford,” Treviño said.
While a ShotSpotter pilot program on both the Eastside and Westside will be considered for the FY2016 budget, it did not make the list of funding priorities for the contingency budget approved on Thursday. Villagomez explained that there was more discussion and a bigger push for the body camera purchase and other items than the ShotSpotter pilot, so it was left off the list approved by Council today.
More details from today’s meeting will be added later today. Stay tuned.
Correction: The City had stated that the B-Cycle allocation would be $126,424. The actual amount is $121,500.
*Featured/top image: The San Antonio B-Cycle hub located at the corner of César Chávez Boulevard and South Alamo Street. Photo by Scott Ball.