City Manager Finalist Erik Walsh.
City Manager Erik Walsh will lead a tele-town hall discussion Monday to get citizens' input on the 2020 budget. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Rather than schlep to a public input meeting on a weeknight –  and having to find a babysitter and parking – San Antonio residents can take part in a town hall discussion on the City’s 2020 budget via telephone Tuesday night from the comfort of their own homes (or wherever they are).

Those interested in participating in the citywide conference call can register here and they will be automatically called at 6 p.m. when the town hall begins. City Manager Erik Walsh will field questions from the audience via voice message, email (saspeakup@sanantonio.gov), and through social media with the hashtag #SASpeakUp. City staff also will conduct opinion polls throughout the event, which will be Walsh’s first town hall since he became city manager on March 1.

Registration before the town hall is not required, according to a City spokeswoman, and anyone can join the conversation right before or during the event. The call will be livestreamed on the City’s Facebook page.

Residents can also text SASPEAKUP to 55000 to receive registration information.

Through SASpeakUp, which has become the umbrella organization and branding for the City’s public engagement efforts, the City collected ideas from more than 7,800 residents to inform the 2019 budget, according to a press release.

“Each year, residents have asked for more funding for streets as their top priority and the City has more than tripled the street maintenance budget since the 2015 inception of SASpeakUp,” the release stated.

This is the first of dozens of public participation events – online and in person, including some at Spurs games, The DoSeum, and during Fiesta – the City will host as it develops the fiscal year 2020 budget. The fiscal year starts on Oct. 1, and City budgets are usually approved in September.

The City’s Office of Innovation and its Parks and Recreation department also have utilized tele-town halls to gather public input. The Innovation town hall drew 1,100 participants, according to the spokeswoman, while traditional, in-person events draw crowds of hundreds at the most.

More than 10,000 San Antonians listened in to a similar event hosted by a political campaign last year, according to organizers.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org