Medina County Judge Chris Schuchart asked Bexar County commissioners to join his county in protecting the Edwards Aquifer.
The Bexar County Commissioner's Court at the Bexar County Courthouse. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

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

The Price of Water

$386-$704 per acre-foot is the price range for rights to the Edwards Aquifer, depending on specifics, according to the most recent San Antonio Water System management plan. That amounts to between one-tenth and one-fifth of a cent per gallon.

As Bexar, Medina, and Uvalde counties experience explosive urban and suburban growth, demand on municipal use of the Edwards Aquifer is growing, putting pressure on where and how the resource is tapped.

On Friday, Bexar County commissioners considered joining Medina County to give more firepower to the Edwards Aquifer Authority in its legal battle with Uvalde County interests.

In January, the Uvalde County Underground Water Conservation District sued the authority, arguing the authority was improperly allowing water that’s supposed to be reserved for farming to be used for developed areas and sold outside county lines. Uvalde County and the City of Uvalde later joined the lawsuit on the side of the Uvalde water district.

Real Estate Riches

$35.7 billion in annual economic activity is attributed to real estate development in San Antonio, a 10 percent jump from 2015 to 2017, according to a study by Austin-based public policy consulting firm TXP. The study estimates the City of San Antonio received $90 million in tax revenue from sales and property taxes, and Bexar County received about $10 million.

Income for employees in the real estate development sector jumped from $5.9 billion in 2015 to $6.6 billion in 2017, according to the study, which also found the industry produced $232.8 million in local tax revenue in 2017, a 13.3 percent jump from two years earlier.

The study was commissioned by the Responsible Growth Alliance, a group of entities such as the San Antonio Apartment Association, Engineers of Private Practice, and The Greater San Antonio Builders Association, and is the fifth such study done for San Antonio.

Bexar Budget

$1.7 billion is the proposed Bexar County budget for fiscal year 2018-19, nearly 3 percent less than last year’s budget. Bexar County Commissioners considered the budget proposal on Friday.

The adopted budget includes funding to increase the livable wage from $13.75 to $14.25 per hour.

Last year, the adopted budget totaled $1.76 billion for all funds, including $555 million in Operating Appropriations, $807 million in Capital Projects, $141 million for Debt Service, and $258 million for contingencies and reserves.

Hearings on the proposed property tax rate of $0.301097 per $100 of valuation, 1 percent less than the current tax rate, and the budget are expected in early September. Commissioners are slated to vote on both on Sept. 11.

Branding the Tower

460,000 square feet is the total Class A office space in the new Frost Tower that  already occupies a prominent place on the San Antonio skyline. Crowds gathered on Houston Street Thursday morning to witness the icing on the cake – workers and cranes lifting the Frost Bank logo into place at the top of the 23-story tower.

Frost Tower is the product of a public-private partnership, one of the largest such deals in San Antonio’s history, facilitated by Weston Urban with Frost Bank and the City of San Antonio in 2014. At the time, the tower was expected to cost about $142 million; representatives declined to say whether that estimate is still accurate.

Condo Living

1,017 listings for condos and 648 listings for townhomes were placed in San Antonio between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the Texas Condominium Sales Report, produced by Texas A&M University. The activity shows an emerging trend in condominium and townhome purchases in parts of the city.

Homebuyers in Texas are turning to townhomes and condominiums in increasing numbers as they look for more affordability in urban areas high in density and desirability. In San Antonio, these developments are introducing growth and renewal in a city with aging building stock, and where nearly half of residents own their homes.

In June, there were a total of 63 active condo listings in Alamo Heights, up from 56 the year before. But it’s an area where purchasing a single-family home can mean big bucks. Online real estate marketplaces show the median list price per square foot in Alamo Heights is $267, while the San Antonio metro average is $124.

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Emily Royall

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