This November, voters could cast their ballot for as many as four proposals during the general election; all the referendum measures call for a slight increase in sales tax to fund them.
The sales tax increase would provide additional funding for VIA, allow the City to purchase land over the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, allocate money to the Better Jobs program, and establish a Crime Control and Prevention District.
The Texas legislature allows cities to increase the local and state sales tax rate to a maximum of 8.25 percent. San Antonio currently has a 7.75 percent sales tax rate, leaving room for a half-cent increase, which would be divided among the winning proposals. Already, VIA has asked for its portion to be 3/8-cent, which, if approved, would leave just 1/8-cent for other approved projects.
"We know from the recent Charter election that when you have several issues on the ballot it starts to cloud the voters' analysis on individual items," said Mayor Ed Garza at a June 9 City Council meeting. "I don't think any of these are slam dunks. The individual groups should develop grassroots support to make these projects successful. There needs to be collaboration between the groups. This chamber should be full of people supporting the resolutions. If there isn't, I will have strong reservations about them."
Texas law allows VIA to call independently for its own November referendum on its proposal; Council could approve a referendum on the other issues as early as June 24.
This week, the Current looks at VIA and the land purchases over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. Next week, the Current will review the Better Jobs and Crime Control initiatives. •
By Lisa Sorg