Community
3:16 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Delegate Agencies Deal With City Budget Cuts


With more than 70 delegate agencies, the city council each year funds the organizations to help them accomplish their missions, but this time the council had to make cuts to meet its objective of balancing the budget. 

San Antonio budget director Maria Villagomez said the agencies, with the exception of Haven for Hope, took a five percent cut.

It's not enough for District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules, who has said every non-essential service should be eliminated.

"We're raising fees to offset deficits but what we're not really doing is saying what's not critical to the city and not cutting that," he said.

Soules is referring to a $1 charge that the council adopted to be added to the environmental fee line of CPS Energy bills. He and the other two Northside council members-- District 9's Elisa Chan and District 8's Ron Nirenberg -- called the fee a tax because it's not paying for what they believed were essential services.

Yet many others argue that agencies like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Girl Scouts, and ChildSafe are essential services.

During Thursday's discussion on the budget, District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales expressed her concern for agencies and the work they do in the community.

"When we talk about the delegate agencies," she said, "often we don't address how much value they add."

During a meeting following the vote on the budget, City Manager Sheryl Sculley spoke of Project Quest, a delegate agency that is partnering with Rackspace's Cloud Academy to train people for jobs in the technology field.

"We have some technology companies in San Antonio that are actually recruiting from outside of San Antonio and actually transporting staff from other cities to San Antonio to do their job," she said. "We need to develop our own workforce in San Antonio."

ChildSafe CEO Kim Abernethy said her organization will receive $75,000. She originally sought $100,000.

ChildSafe lost a revenue source totaling $120,000, so Abernethy said the city funding will help make up the shortfall, and for that, she said, she is grateful.

"We were in the [city] budget, out of the budget, back in the  budget. So I'm pleased," she said.

ChildSafe does not receive any cash funding from Bexar County, but the county does provide investigators who are dedicated staff members of the organization.

She will have to compete next year for funding, along with other delegate agencies. But, she said she's confident ChildSafe will be funded because it is the only service of its kind in Bexar County that provides services to abused, neglected, and sexually abused children.

"We're keeping children safe," she said. "We're the only ones providing these particular services."

Sculley said the council funds agencies based on a set of outlined principles the body adopts during goal-setting sessions. Some of those categories include children, senior services, and education.