Bexar County commissioners voted Monday to propose cutting fewer constable positions in the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget.

In the original budget proposal, the county manager’s office recommended eliminating 38 out of 69 deputy constable positions, which would save a projected $2.7 million. All four constables objected to the potential cuts and criticized county commissioners earlier in September for considering such a significant reduction in jobs. 

On Monday, Commissioner Justin Rodriguez (Pct. 2) suggested paring 19 jobs instead of 38. 

“Thirty-eight was too steep of a cut,” Rodriguez said. “We know we have to make some cuts, which is why I proposed half of what they were suggesting.”

Commissioners also directed County Manager David Smith to return Tuesday with information on where the County can find more than $1 million that would have been saved by eliminating all 38 constable positions.

Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) put forward a motion to maintain all deputy constable positions but found no support among his colleagues. He ultimately voted to support Rodriguez’s move to eliminate only 19 constable positions but said there was no need to cut any jobs.

“We have to watch our budget, but the government in a down economy should not do austerity,” Calvert said. “Government should stimulate to make jobs and maintain jobs. Cutting good-paying government jobs is a last resort, and I didn’t feel any other department had to deal with the burden of losing half their employees.”

Constable Ruben C. Tejeda (Pct. 1) agreed and reiterated that cuts would affect livelihoods in Bexar County. Though the sheriff’s department is also set to lose seven law enforcement positions, those jobs are currently unfilled, he said. None of Bexar County’s three other constables support job reductions, Tejeda said.

“It’s sad we’re the only agency that’s going to lose positions,” he said. “The positions taken from the sheriff are all vacant. Here, we are hurting families.”

Commissioners approved a memorandum Monday with all the proposed changes for the 2021 fiscal year budget, including putting $1.5 million toward a mental health response program approved on Thursday. They will hold a public hearing and vote on the final budget Tuesday

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.