voters will consider proposal in November
After more than five hours of debate and comments by some eighty citizens, the largest citizen turnout since the PGA Village debate a decade ago, San Antonio City Council Thursday night voted unanimously to place that sales tax increase on the ballot in November, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The one eighth cent sales tax increase will fund a comprehensive Pre-K education program which will now be available to all students in Bexar county, after the plan was expanded amid complaints that residents of unincorporated areas would have to pay the higher sales tax on their CPS Energy bills, but would not have been able to take advantage of the program.
The final city council vote was 11-0, alothough some council members showed their concerns about the program by voting against the creation of the San Antonio Education Finance Corporation, the entity which will manage the program.
The vast majority of the speakers in support of the proposal represented businesses and other organized groups, while opponents were individuals and representatives of 'Tea Party' organizations.
Mayor Julian Castro has described the program as a centerpiece of his term as mayor, saying exposing all four year olds to pre Kindergarten programs will help reduce the city’s high school dropout rate.
"I'm very pleased that the council today spoke with one voice," Castro said following the unanimous vote. "It is a well put together initiative with parental accountability, and quality control."
Castro repeatedly cited the estimated cost of the program to citizens, he says the average family will pay an extra $7.81 a year.
"The school districts don't have the capacity today to serve all of those who need pre-K education, or all of the four year olds in the community," City Manager Sheryl Sculley said.
I'm very pleased that the council today spoke with one voice,” Castro said. “It's a well-put-together initiative with parental accountability, checks and balances and quality control — for the cost of $7.81 for the median household in San Antonio.”
But opponents say Pre-K programs are already being offered by the local school districts, and say classes are half full because parents don’t take advantage of the programs. They also say that education is not a proper function of city government, and city taxes should be spent on core city services like police protection.
The citizens will decide the fate of the tax increase on the same day the President is elected, November 6.