UPDATE: This event is now open to the public, free of charge, thanks to partner support. Registration is still required here, as space is limited. Ticket refunds will be processed as soon as possible by organizers.
Part of being an informed citizen includes understanding the 2017 municipal bond process and how the City plans to allocate revenue to implement large improvement projects around San Antonio. It's a complicated process with dozens of stakeholders, but it's important that the citizen's voice be heard loud and clear.
Centro San Antonio, in partnership with Overland Partners and the Rivard Report, is teaming up with community and downtown leaders on Thursday, June 30 to host a Build Your Own Bond (BYOBond) event to educate and empower citizens on the 2017 municipal bond process.
The event will take place at the Pearl Stable, 307 Pearl Pkwy, from 6:30-9 p.m., include an engaged panel discussion, and on-site exhibits. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Mayor Ivy Taylor, Tech Bloc co-founder Lew Moorman, Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association President Brian Dillard, San Pedro Creek landscape architect Mario Schjetnan Garduño, and Overland Partners designer Siboney Díaz-Sánchez will sit on the panel moderated by Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard. Additional program participants include Councilman Robert Treviño (D1), Centro San Antonio CEO Pat DiGiovanni, For the Love of Cities author Peter Kageyama, and Mi Tierra Restaurant and Bakery founder Pete Cortez.
Kageyama will, according to Centro, make "a surprise announcement .... (which) will sustain the civic engagement from the 'BYOBroadway' contest held earlier this year."
(Read More: Hundreds Convene at Pearl to Build a Better Broadway)
Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) will give a brief overview of the SA Tomorrow comprehensive master plan and how the bond will play into the City's long term vision. Nirenberg serves as a tri-chair of the planning effort.
The BYOBond panel discussion and other programming will focus on functionalism versus "aspirational application and imagination" of municipal bond dollars. Up to seven bond-funded projects will be displayed on easels to showcase the power of transformational bond dollars at work.
The displays will have transformational filters and non-transformational filters to show the difference between projects that fix short-term and long-term infrastructure needs. Attendees are welcome to tweet live questions using #BYOBond leading up to and during the event.
"We're going to have four or five major filters or criteria that we hope the city will use to look at future bond projects,” DiGiovanni said. “We hope that it will be a very interactive session with the panel itself, and we’re working the program to ensure that it’s not going to be a one-way communication, we really want the audience to be engaged in the conversation."
The 2017 Bond
In a nutshell, a municipal bond is a financial tool which allows the city to pay for improvement projects that require large amounts of up-front capital. The bond program runs every five years and the city sells bonds to finance these projects and pays down the debt through the use of tax payer dollars. Over the years, San Antonio has continuously been awarded the highest possible credit rating by major bond rating agencies.
(Read more: Urban Literacy: What is a Municipal Bond?)
Currently, Council members are working with community representatives and negotiating in each of the 10 districts on prioritizing certain projects. The 2017-2022 bond is expected to be an $850 million program, the largest bond program in the city's history.
Eventually, citizens will participate in the discussion when the Community Bond Committee chairs are selected and citizens are chosen to serve on those committees. They will advise the city on issues pertaining to streets, bridges, sidewalks, drainage, parks and facilities, and community initiatives.
DiGiovanni believes that the BYOBond event goes beyond the scope of the bond, as there are only so many dollars available.
"We want to empower and educate citizens not only on the 2017 bond, but their involvement in building the city," he said. "This is an avenue for people to get engaged and remain engaged beyond these kind of events. This is what citizen empowerment is all about.”
Centro San Antonio's recent Build Your Own Broadway event proved that citizens want a forum to participate in city planning efforts, it brought hundreds of San Antonians together to imagine what a re-designed Broadway could look like. The design competition gave a combined $20,000 in prize money to individuals and design teams and raised awareness to prioritize Broadway among the projects included in the City’s 2017 Bond.
“This is everyone’s city, everyone’s downtown, they have an opportunity to come down and be a part of it, just like we did with the BYOBroadway (event), to get people thinking and articulating their vision for their city and how we can build that with the bond," Digiovanni said. “It’s a great opportunity to continue the momentum that was started with the other place changing events that have taken place.”
According to DiGiovanni, the "highly energized event" on June 30 will also tie in with SA Tomorrow's vision planning efforts, which include Comprehensive, Sustainability, and Multimodal Transportation plans in preparation for the 1.1 million people expected to move to San Antonio by 2040.
"The transformation piece is key … we’d like to see this bond program and future bond programs truly be transformational to raise our national and international stature in the city," DiGiovanni said. "We need great projects to make for a great city and a great downtown."
As an engaged citizen, this is your chance to get informed before the municipal bond process goes forward. Now is the time to participate in discussions, raise concerns, and suggest ideas to help the city progress and create a vibrant and prosperous downtown that benefits the entire San Antonio community.
Disclosure: Lew Moorman sits on the Rivard Report board. Overland Partners is a business member. Click here to view a list of board members and here to view the businesses and individuals that contribute to the nonprofit Rivard Report.
This story was originally published on June 20, but has been updated with event details provided by Centro San Antonio.
Top image: Lines gather in front of the Pearl Stable during Pints and Politics II. Photo by Scott Ball.