Mayoral Challenger Brockhouse Lays Out ‘Action Plan SA’ for First 90 Days, If Elected

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Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6).

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6).

Mayoral candidate and Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) released the first of a series of proposals that will comprise a policy punch list for his first 90 days in office, if elected in the June 8 runoff against Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

At the top of that list is a decreasing the property tax burden on local taxpayers by decreasing City taxes. Brockhouse proposes cutting spending what he calls frivolous projects.

“We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem,” Brockhouse said in a news release Monday, citing $18,000 spent on curtains in the mayor’s office, increased costs associated with renovations on City offices in the Frost Tower, and the Hardberger Park Land Bridge, which is not a part of the City budget but was included in the voter-approved 2017 municipal bond.

“The money is already there, we just need the leadership to make it happen,” he said of City spending.

Brockhouse has long criticized Nirenberg for not pushing for a reduced property tax rate and local homestead exemption, two of seven goals Brockhouse pledged to achieve in his first 90 days. However, most of the actions would require a majority vote from City Council, and it’s uncertain whether he would be able to sway enough Council members to back him.

Nirenberg has said that meaningful tax relief can be achieved, but it would require the State shifting the burden of school finance from local school districts and that small discounts like a decreased city tax rate would do little to impact local tax bills.

The City is responsible for about 22 percent of property owners’ tax bills. The City has not increased its property tax rates for 26 years, but they have been reduced seven times over the past two decades.  When he was representing District 8 on City Council in 2014, Nirenberg voted alongside a unanimous Council to decrease the rate in 2015.

Brockhouse and Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) were the only two Council members to push for a lower City property tax rate during the last two budget cycles. Those decreases would have saved homeowners less than $9 per year, and reduce the City’s budget to provide services by $5 million.

Tax bills typically increase because of climbing property values or school district rate increases.

Courtesy / City of San Antonio

Tax bills in San Antonio typically increase because of climbing property values or school district rate increases.

“Over the next two weeks, our campaign will be rolling out a series of commonsense solutions to our biggest challenges,” Brockhouse stated in the new release announcing his “Action Plan SA.”

Kelton Morgan, Nirenberg’s campaign manager, said Brockhouse’s plan so far is just more rhetoric from the police and firefighters unions’ “puppet.”

“Typical of Councilman Brockhouse, his plan is all rhetoric and no actual plan,” Morgan said. “Brockhouse has already promised to mortgage our city’s future to pay off his public safety union puppetmasters. There will be no money left to fund any of his empty promises to voters.”

Brockhouse worked for the unions as a political consultant before he was elected to the Council.

Here are the seven “action” items Brockhouse released on Monday:

  • “A meaningful cut in property taxes in the upcoming budget.
  • “A citywide homestead exemption.
  • “A property tax freeze for development zones to prevent gentrification and displacement.
  • “An increase in the military disabled veteran property tax exemption to match the disability rating.
  • “Appointing a taxpayer advocate to the Bexar County Appraisal District.
  • “A resolution asking Gov. Greg Abbott to add appraisal reform to any call he issues for a special session of the state legislature.
  • “Creating a new protocol to prioritize property tax abatements for existing businesses who want to grow and expand over businesses first moving to San Antonio.”

34 thoughts on “Mayoral Challenger Brockhouse Lays Out ‘Action Plan SA’ for First 90 Days, If Elected

  1. That plan sounds terrible. Specifically, as an urban dweller, I fail to see how this plan helps me at all.

      • When their president holds press conferences wearing a fake uniform to make him look official, that’s kinda corrupt. When he hires people to pretend to be firefighters and collect signatures, that’s also a little corrupt. When he holds your cities’ bond rating hostage in exchange for some union-managed health plan scheme, that might also be a little corrupt.

        • First, you’re drinking the koolaid, the express news is the one that said it was fake. How was it fake? It is from a authorized fire uniform store that we all get uniforms from. Next. Hires people? Are you aware the “go vote no” campaign spent at least three times more money? Are you aware that go vote no people working the polls were getting paid to hold signs and had no idea about the campaign?Next. Cities bond rating? Thank your girl sculley for that. She left and the bond rating went down. It was Fitch that down graded it, why not standard and poors or Moody’s? Next.

          Come at me with better arguments and not just spewing things you read off the RR.

          • Oh good grief. All your responses do nothing but validate Gerry’s points. The firefighters are doing what’s in their best interest with little regard for the city and its financial health.

            Everything you need to know lies in the fact that they want to financially benefit from a city they aren’t even required to be residents of.

            And Brockhouse was their political consultant for years before he finally made his way into city politics? Hmmmm wonder who he’s looking out for: the city’s residents or the union that helped him get elected.

  2. The bottom line, is every property owner has seen a ridiculous rise in their property taxes under liberal “leadership”, if you can call it leadership. Ron was Scully’s puppet, and without her, has no clue what to do. Greg is right, we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem in SA. Making government bigger, only costs us more and more…….a mirror of our Federal issues. Time to give SA residents some relief.

    • How exactly has “liberal leadership” caused a ridiculous rise in property taxes John Anderson? The article noted that the city has not raised its portion of property taxes in 26 years and has in fact lowered the rate 7 times in the last two decades. John Anderson please explain yourself or refrain from your baseless attacks.

      • So “John”, if we’re going to mention baseless attacks, how does Brockhouse cutting taxes make him the “police and firefighters unions’ puppet”?

        As for liberal leadership…

        “The Appraisal District Board of Directors Role in the Property Tax System.

        The local property tax system follows the principle of checks and balances. An appraisal district board of directors hires the chief appraiser and sets the budget. The chief appraiser carries out the appraisal district’s legal duties, hires the staff, makes the appraisals and operates the appraisal office.”

        And who is the Chair of this committee? That hires the guy who does the appraisals? The overvalued appraisals? District 1 Robert Trevino. A liberal. That’s how.

        • Ummm our property values are based on an algorithm that gets data from sales in geographic areas.. If people are willing to pay more over time it all tics upward..

          • Wrong! You can take CMA to a hearing, you can use the facts for your neighborhood from BCAD website to a hearing…it doesn’t matter. There is no real algorithm. They can’t explain in factual terms why your value has risen !

    • Property VALUES have risen, not taxes. Please understand that your property values have risen because that’s what happens when the economy grows. Businesses hire people or increase wages, or new jobs move to San Antonio. Simple supply and demand. San Antonio is growing and housing is in greater demand. More and more people are realizing San Antonio isn’t a bad place to live. As the article states, property tax RATES have not risen in 26 years in San Antonio. You’re the victim of a healthy economy.

  3. Liberal leadership! Amazing stuff there, John. Property taxes are going up because the value of property is going up, because there’s more demand for property in the city. That’s not liberal leadership, that’s basic economics.

    On the “policy ideas”, it’s a curious thing to bring out policy ideas after the election is over.

  4. Hold on a second. How many John’s are there here. Is John just having a conversation with himself? I swear I am a different John.

  5. I love it when politicians make their 100-day promises (in this case 90-days). They can’t keep any of those promises without council majorities. If you’re dumb enough to believe that he’ll do these things right out of the gate on his own, then I have a fire union arbitration clause to sell you.

  6. I read the news regularly to see as many points of view as possible. When Rivard Report sticks to straight news it stands as one of few true local sources and is a useful outlet. Unfortunately the news gets buried frequently by unabashed open bias. Then come the comments where I get to read how corrupt and greedy I am. You see I am a firefighter. It’s always mystifying to read the attacks levied against me. I go to work 24 hours at a time to be available for San Antonio whenever needed, for an ever increasing list of possible emergencies. Then I mow my lawn, take my kids to school and hopefully an activity sometimes. When they get sick I take them to the doctor and somehow wind up paying a lot of money for the health care I keep getting told is free. I pay taxes. Then I go to work again and deal with your worst moments, while putting mine on hold. I chose this job and love the opportunity. Yet somehow a segment of the citizens have decided I am entitled because I worry about my family being safe and taken care of should something happen to me. I’m greedy when I fight against efforts to reduce my pay and worry about how the appraisal on my San Antonio home is growing faster and faster. I’m corrupt when I participate in the the political process and back a candidate who doesn’t threaten my ability to put food on the table or keep the roof over our heads. Each of you has a preferred candidate because you think they serve to benefit you somehow. My livelihood depends on a majority vote in council and making sure I provide service with a smile no matter what I’m faced with. I can control the smile and service. The majority vote depends on the citizens of San Antonio. I serve and smile and hope there are enough people who appreciate a hard job and vote. Hopefully more than those who think I’m corrupt or think the same of a candidate who values the contribution of police and firefighters to the quality of life in our city.

    P. S. Can’t sign my name because I’m not allowed to have a public voice and identify as a City employee.

    • Politicians keep talking about reducing the tax rate to help solve our property tax problems but it’s not what is causing the problem. Home price inflation is. A meaningful tax cut for me would mean my property taxes decreasing by at least $500/yr. That would still put my property taxes at $2000/yr higher than they were when I purchased my home 10 years ago. I’m a mathematician so that would mean the city government would have to decrease my city taxes by 34%. I’m not a Brockhouse fan but if he could propose even half of that, a 17% decrease of my city taxes I’d strongly consider voting for him even without the guarantee it would happen. But he can’t even guarantee half of 17%, it would financially ruin the city to a tune of $42.5 million. How do we pay for increased firefighter pay and benefits if we lose that type of money? He’s offered 1% which saves me $15/yr. The taxes worry me because I’m afraid I might one day be priced out of my home due to the taxes (my taxes are more than my mortgage). Saving $15/yr doesn’t reduce that likely-hood.

    • When you are earning a salary at 1.5-2.5 times higher than the average San Antonio resident for doing your job, and not paying what those average San Antonio residents are for your health care (you brought it up), and then you get on here and run the guilt trip of all guilt trips to try and make your case, it sours the notion that you will “serve and smile” regardless. Many, MANY people work hard and earn a third of what you do, while paying their health care deductibles. Take the guilt trip somewhere else.

      • We are already paying for more than our own healthcare. Homeowner taxpayers who pay personal health insurance also pay the University Health System through their property taxes even though the homeowner taxpayer most likely doesn’t use the System…so homeowner taxpayers are paying for a service they most likely do not use! (Univ Health System is used primarily by those with little/no health ins…also a Level 1 trauma hospital)

      • No intention to guilt trip anyone. I chose my profession and am blessed to like my job. I work hard and earn my income like so many other people. Your suggestion is what? Anyone earning above average should make up the difference in other costs?

    • Let me explain why your healthcare is called “free”. How much a month do you pay in healthcare premiums, even if you or your family don’t have any medical expenses? Do you have any idea how much healthcare premiums have risen for almost everyone else? I get it – shifting from not paying any healthcare premiums to paying what the rest of us have to would be a pay cut – and that’s never something anyone would sign up for – but that benefit is a spiraling cost that is based on a 20 yr old contract that the firefighters union refuses to come to the table to negotiate.

      • The city is self insured. If I never go to the doctor the city doesn’t spend a dime. If I do go to the doctor I pay co-pay, deductible, etc. Is there currently a monthly premium? No, there is not because previous negotiations have given up pay raises to maintain health care levels. Consider that pay raises compound and an argument can be made that the city has saved money in the long run. The contract is 9 years old. It is actively being negotiated.

  7. So how, exactly, does the city get the county to comply with appraisal reform efforts by the city? I’d like to see the details of that. BCAD is out of control and if not corrupt, at least terribly incompetent but I’m not sure how much the mayor can get done on that front.

    • Mayor’s have no control over valuations. Also, the county doesn’t run BCAD. It’s an independent bureaucratic agency— mostly run at the whim of the school districts.

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