City Manager Sheryl Sculley presents the fiscal year 2019 city budget to council.
City Manager Sheryl Sculley presents the fiscal year 2019 city budget to members of the San Antonio City Council. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Denominator is a weekly brief of significant numbers underlying our latest news stories.

Growing Budget 

$2.8 billion is the City of San Antonio’s total budget for fiscal year 2019. The budget is about 6 percent larger than the 2018 budget, and a proposed allocation of funds presented by the City Manager’s office to City Council on Thursday increases funding for housing, transportation, parks, and public libraries.

The departments seeing the largest increases in funding from 2018 in the proposal are Neighborhood and Housing Services, up 333 percent from 2018, and Transportation and Capital Improvements, which increased 25 percent over the previous year, according to the City Manager’s office.

The next fiscal year begins Oct. 1. City Council is expected to vote on the 2019 budget on Sept. 13. Before the vote, SA Speak Up, the City’s public engagement campaign, will host seven meetings to gather public feedback about the proposed budget.

Ballooning Costs Doom Plethora

$1.5 million was the most recent projected cost of the Plethora sculpture, which will no longer be the centerpiece public art work at San Pedro Creek Culture Park. The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) issued a request for qualifications last week seeking a new public art project for the site.

Plethora‘s original budget of $735,000 escalated in part because of a change to a more expensive construction material to improve the sculpture’s structural integrity.

The Bexar County Commissioners Court, the project’s sponsor, has made no public announcement of the cancellation of Plethora, but the request for qualifications requests proposals for a new project to be completed by winter 2019. The new work would occupy the same site on the Plaza de Fundacion, where the creek intersects Santa Rosa Street.

Healthy Budget 

$44 million is the current budget for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District which presented its funding priorities to City Council on Thursday, including funding requests to continue air quality research and expand mental health services for children.

Focus areas for the department’s 2017-2019 Strategic Plan include increasing childhood immunization rates, decreasing ozone levels, addressing adult Type 2 diabetes, and improving rates of obesity in children and adults, according to Colleen Bridger, the department’s director.

The $44 million includes $4.8 million in direct funds from the city, $13 million from the city’s general fund, and the remainder from federal grant funding.

Philanthropic Leader

$50 million is the amount of money that Tom Frost, who died Friday at age 90, helped raise for the McNay Art Museum.

After his more than 30-year career leading Frost Bank, he dedicated himself to philanthropic efforts related to the arts, education, and job training. “As a lifetime trustee, and our chairman, Tom Frost was a champion of the museum as a community oasis of peace, beauty, hope, and inspiration,” said McNay director Richard Aste.

Job Creation

70,000 is the number of jobs that Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s Blue Chip Jobs Council hopes to create in San Antonio by 2020.

The Blue Chip Jobs Council is an informal group of San Antonio business leaders who have agreed to help the City recruit corporations to invest in San Antonio.

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Emily Royall

Emily Royall is the Rivard Report's former data director.