Yesterday, the Chamber Board of Directors voted to support redirecting the One-Eighth-Cent Sales Tax from the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program to the Advanced Transportation District for public transportation. The recommendation originated in the Chamber’s Infrastructure Committee, Co-Chaired by Melisa Montemayor, Vice President and Group Director for Roadway Engineering at HNTB and Tim Heinle, Vice President of Business Development at OCI Solar Power.
VIA Metropolitan Transit has been inadequately funded, collecting a half cent of sales tax, whereas Austin, Dallas, Houston, and other comparable Texas cities collect a full cent. Redirecting the One-Eighth -Cent Sales Tax would add an estimated $36 million a year to the ATD. Increasing funding for VIA will improve public transportation in San Antonio, promote economic growth, unclog congestion on our roadways and help improve the odds of low-income families escaping poverty.
On August 13, the San Antonio City Council voted 9-2 to place a workforce development initiative on the November 3 ballot. That initiative includes redirecting the 1/8 cent sales tax revenue to the City of San Antonio to fund short-term COVID-19 economic recovery efforts, including workforce development programs. If approved in November, sales tax collections for workforce development would start in Summer 2021 and go through December 31, 2025.
Also on August 13, the VIA Board of Trustees, acting as the Advanced Transportation District (ATD), voted 11-0 to place the measure on the ballot to redirect the same 1/8 cent sales tax from the City’s workforce development initiative to the ATD beginning January 1, 2026.
Both initiatives are dependent upon voter approval and will be on the November Election Ballot as two separate measures.
The current 1/8 cent sales tax is used to support the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program (EAPP) and Parks Development & Expansion Venue Project. Both programs are set to expire in 2021. However, last week the San Antonio City Council voted 9-2 to assume the EAPP, committing to a 10-year, $100 million plan, which includes the issuance of debt. The City plans to use a portion of the payments the City receives from SAWS to secure the debt.
Your San Antonio Chamber of Commerce will now work to support the Keep SA Moving plan up until the November 3 Election and take a proactive approach to communicate this position to the business community, the media, and other Chamber members.