Police union contract stalemate may affect street projects

SAN ANTONIO – City officials said Wednesday there are still bumps in the road when it comes to reaching a new deal with police and fire unions.

“Our public safety expenses now consume two-thirds of the general fund budget and it’s growing,” said Sculley. “We want to be able to contain those costs so that we can provide the adequate street maintenance and park maintenance, social services and library services that the residents of the community really want.”

It’s something District 9 Councilman Joe Krier wishes they could avoid.

“It is very painful to put off street maintenance. If it’s one thing I hear throughout District 9 and my colleagues here throughout the city, is that we are not spending enough money on keeping our streets and drainage up to the level they need to be,” said Krier.

The city and the police union said several proposals have been made over the last year, but they’ve been unable to come to an agreement.

“We had to cut $9 million of the street maintenance budget as part of the budget amendment because we didn’t have a contract settled and the council had to put more money back into the budget to cover public safety health care,” said Sculley.

Michael Helle, police union president, said putting public safety health care costs ahead of street maintenance projects is a bad negotiation tactic.

“The city manager has had this propaganda war with public safety for the last year and a half, almost two years now,” said Helle. “It’s unnecessary, it’s unwarranted, they are just trying to scare the community into some kind of hatred or anger towards public safety workers.”

With or without a new deal, council members will take up the 2016 budget in August.