SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 17, 2020) — City Council adopted the FY2021 Budget today. The budget provides 29.6% more funding for Metro Health compared to last year, including a $500,000 increase to the Healthy Neighborhoods program. Councilwoman Sandoval made the following remarks:
Thank you to everyone who participated in public comment during today's budget session and to every single one of the 22,000 residents who took this year's SA Speak Up budget survey.
By its nature, a city's budget will never be enough to serve all the competing needs a city has. This has never been more true than this year. 2020 has been a year when the needs are highest and the resources, lowest.
It's in choosing between all the different directions that we're pulled in that we decide what our priorities are. I'm proud that we've prioritized public health this year.
The growth in our Healthy Neighborhoods program is an investment in the future of our community's health, resiliency, and prosperity. And it will help us chip away at the 20-year life expectancy gap that persists in our city.
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I want to thank those who submitted letters of support, including NISD Superintendent Brian Woods, the Population Health Advisory Council, the San Antonio Vascular and Endovascular (SAVE) Clinic, and many other individuals.
But we must continue the conversation of how committed we are to funding public health. This year, the Community Health & Equity Committee will take up the discussion of growing our funding levels for public health programs and setting a floor for spending in public health. The City cannot do this alone. Thus, we will continue conversations with the County and other health partners as we move forward.
I know there are many who wanted to see a more meaningful reimagining of our public safety system in this budget.
We've heard Chief McManus say that in many cases, 'we cannot arrest problems away.' Yet, we continue to send our police officers into neighborhoods with crime, expecting crime to go down, and we are surprised when it doesn't.
We must ask ourselves, do our neighborhoods have the resources they need? Do residents have opportunities to earn a decent living? Do those with addiction problems have access to treatment centers? Do those with mental health problems have access to counseling and treatment?
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It is obvious to me that our health and social services are underfunded and underperforming, and we're expecting the police to fill the gaps. That expectation is unrealistic. It has set us up for failure. It's not fair to our law enforcement officers and it's not fair to our community.
We must continue to explore other, more effective ways to solve social issues. I look forward to supporting the Manager's efforts to have tough conversations on the foundational issues in our public safety system and discussing the results this coming year.
In the meantime, the Community Health & Equity Committee will take up the Mayor's charge to review policing practices as they relate to racial and gender equity and mental health de-escalation.
Thank you to Erik, María, and the Executive Leadership Team. I respect the work you do, this year put your creativity, resourcefulness, and ingenuity on full display.
A special thank you to City employees for your work this year. If there were ever a year that demonstrated how valued our public servants are, it's this year. But this year has also proven how dedicated you are—foregoing your cost-of-living increase this year. Thank you for your sacrifice.
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