San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley says she is a big supporter of public safety, and points out that she has added to the rolls of the San Antonio Police Department while making major cuts in the ranks of non uniformed city staff over the past several years.
But, in a frank talk to the San Antonio Manufacturers Association, Sculley revealed that uniformed city employees will bear the brunt of the cuts to so called 'Legacy Costs' under recommendations to be released by the Williams Committee this spring, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"Today we are spending two and a half times per uniform on health care what we spend on our civilians," Sculley said. "Two and a half times more. It's almost double anything else within the state of Texas. It's out of line and we need to make some changes, and we will be recommending those."
The Williams Committee, colloquially known as the 'Let's Not End Up Like Detroit' Commission, is headed by former Councilman Reed Williams. It is studying how the city's so called 'Legacy Costs' can be reined in so the city will remain solvent.
Sculley says the costs of the police and fire departments are now absorbing 67% of the entire general fund city budget, squeezing every other city operation into that remaining less than one third percent.
"Street maintenance, parks and recreation, libraries, the Health Department, the municipal courts, animal care services, the general administration of the city," she said, ticking off a list of city services which are being squeezed by ever growing public safety costs.
Sculley, it should be noted, will make a salary of $375,000 plus a $50,000 bonus, which means the City Manager of San Antonio makes more than the President of the United States.
2013 was a good year for San Antonio, with skyrocketing sales tax revenue, rising home values which mean more property taxes, and a booming tourism industry. But Sculley says there is one statistic that shows how the 'Legacy Costs' of pubic safety employees is unsustainable.
"Our revenues were up about 2 1/2 percent last year, but expenses were up about 3 1/2 percent."
Sculley says the city budget has become increasingly tilted toward public safety.
"Over the past eight years, we have actually added nearly 500 police and fire personnel, and we have eliminated 1500 civilian positions," she said.
Sculley didn't indicate in her talk to the Manufacturers what the recommendations of the Williams Committee might me, or whether they will focus solely on future hires to the police and fire departments or whether current workers and retirees might be affected as well.