“Millennial Boomtown.” That’s what Forbes called San Antonio in a recent article. We got the nickname because we’re the fastest-growing Millennial population from 2010-2013 among America’s 52 largest metro areas. As part of the Millennial generation, I feel responsible not only for keeping that growth going, but also for making this city an awesome place to live and play.
But how can we as a generation make a difference in our city? Get involved. It sounds cliché, but it really is that simple. Real involvement means we have effective leadership, are informed and able to act on local government issues, and make sure our voices influence the public conversation.
Sure, sounds great, but how? The city of San Antonio’s open house events are a good start. There is an important series of open houses coming up regarding the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Just by showing up, you’ll get the chance to give your input on important aspects of the city budget and ask questions about things that might cause concern or confusion.
Starting Aug. 17, five open houses will be held throughout the city. There’s also a couple of community budget input hearings planned through Sept. 2. If you can’t make it in person, the city also created a virtual open house at www.SASpeakUp.com. And of course you can always join the conversation on your regular social media outlets by tagging #SASpeakUp.
By showing up and telling your city government what’s important, it starts a dialogue with leaders and makes us part of the governing process. This is our chance to actually help map the trajectory of the city of San Antonio’s budget priorities. The budget meetings, in particular, are important because you can actually make suggestions about how you’d like to see budget dollars allocated among city departments. You can literally influence how the city spends money.
I serve as Board Chair for the Leadership Organization of Professionals (LOOP), and our vision is to engage, lead and transform San Antonio into a premier location for innovative and talented young professionals. To get LOOP involved in the process, we hosted a Speak Up on June 22 at The Friendly Spot.
Several members of the City of San Antonio’s Office of Budget Management, Councilmember Roberto Treviño (D1) and Councilmember Alan Warrick II (D2) joined us. We were honored to host the event and thankful that two council members took the time to explain the budget process, field our questions and listen to the input of members at the event and those who attended virtually.
Whether you’re passionate about the arts, recycling, transportation or technology, you can stop by an open house and speak to city representatives or your city council member to get the information you need and express your opinions. Or if you don’t have the first clue about how our city government works and just want to learn about city services, you can attend an open house and see firsthand the work and responsibility of each city department.
The proposed city budget for 2016 is $2.5 billion – a tremendous amount of money. Yet consider that San Antonio has 1.4 million residents, each with his or her own interests, and is growing rapidly. Millennials simply cannot afford to be left out of the process to determine the city’s priorities. How will you know if the things you want from your city are being planned and funded? Show up and speak up.
The budget is the most important vote our city council takes each year. How a city spends its money should be a reflection of its residents’ priorities. Make sure your opinion is part of the equation.
Help LOOP play a role in making San Antonio the premier location for young professionals so that we can keep our status as the top “Millennial Boomtown.”
*Featured/top image: Councilmember Robert Treviño gives a budget overview at The Friendly Spot. Courtesy photo.