Voters begin heading to the polls Monday to vote on six propositions that make up San Antonio’s $1.2 billion bond, the largest yet for a growing city that faces billions in unmet needs.
The biggest chunk of money, $472 million, will pay for street, sidewalk and bridge improvements, with another $170 million going toward 23 drainage and flood control projects.
The bond will also, for the first time, include $150 million to be spent on affordable housing efforts in a city where property tax appraisals rose by an average of 28% for residential homes, according to the Bexar Appraisal District, and at least 45,000 residents earn less than $20,000 a year.
Very few San Antonio voters will decide the bond’s fate; with no San Antonio City Council races on the ballot, supporters estimate just 8%-10% of eligible voters will cast ballots. Two state constitutional amendments to lower some property tax bills will appear on all ballots, while certain voters will also decide the fate of school boards, school bond elections and suburban city council races and propositions.
Early voting runs from Monday, April 25, through Tuesday, May 3. Election day falls on Saturday, May 7. Voters can cast ballots at any one of dozens of polling locations throughout the city during early voting and on election day. Voters who haven’t already applied for a mail-in ballot have limited options this close to the start of voting. The last day the county’s Elections Department can accept those applications is Tuesday, April 26.
Taxes will not rise based on the bond propositions passing, despite rhetoric from some who oppose it. In fact, because of a new state law, the City of San Antonio will likely lower its tax rate next year and implement a homestead exemption in an effort to bring relief to homeowners smarting from seeing their property values — and so also potentially their property taxes — rise.
While past bonds have included many big-ticket “transformational” projects, more than 60% of the 2022-2027 bond will be spent on district-level projects, as most on City Council sought more neighborhood-level infrastructure funding.
The projects that ultimately made it into each bond proposition were debated by not just council but roughly 700 residents who volunteered their time to sit on bond committees. Disagreements were hashed out around funding to renovate the city’s Sunken Garden Theater, as well as how much should be spent on public art and to complete the city’s linear trails greenway system.
The city has created an exhaustive guide, in English and Spanish, to the bond program, including brief descriptions of each project within each of the six propositions, where and when voters can cast their ballots and a Q&A that includes an explanation of how bonds are funded. Below is a brief summary of each proposition. Public art funding is considered as a single project in each of the first five propositions.
- Proposition A: $472 million for 62 street, bridge and sidewalk improvement projects. Roughly $100 million would be spent to repair “F”-rated streets. Another $12 million would be spent to make streets and crossings safer for pedestrians. A complete list of projects starts on Page 7 of the bond guide.
- Proposition B: $170 million for 23 drainage and flood control improvement projects. Some big-ticket projects include $20 million for the Peggy Drive area, $15.4 million for the Wilcox Avenue area and $15.8 million for the Marbach Road area. A complete list of projects begins on Page 11 of the bond guide.
- Proposition C: $272 million for 82 parks, recreation and open space improvement projects. This proposition would pay for upgrades to dozens of city parks, plus several citywide amenities, including $10 million for the San Antonio Zoo, $3.2 million in bike facilities and $18 million for Hemisfair Civic Park. The full project list starts on Page 16 of the bond guide.
- Proposition D: $58 million for nine library and cultural facility projects. Clocking in as the smallest of the bond propositions, it includes $12.5 million to renovate the Carver Branch Library, $11.5 million to renovate the Ella F. Austin Community Center, just over $5 million for Las Palmas Library and $10 million for Tower of the Americas improvements. All the projects are listed on Page 17 of the bond guide.
- Proposition E: $78 million for six public safety facility projects. If this proposition passes, the city’s Southeast Side would see a new $19 million police substation, while fire stations No. 10 and No. 33 would be replaced at a cost of $12.5 million each and Animal Care Services facilities would get a $17 million boost. Roughly $15.8 million in citywide public health and safety facility upgrades round out the projects.
- Proposition F: $150 million for five housing priority funding categories. Rather than earmark this funding for specific projects, the housing proposition instead would divide how the money will be spent into categories: $45 million for homeownership and preservation; $40 million for rental housing acquisition, rehab and preservation; $25 million for supportive housing services; $35 million to build and buy rental housing; and $5 million to build homes.