San Antonio’s planned budget for 2022 is a record $3.1 billion, and it’s set to be approved on September 16. People in San Antonio should notice some notable changes, ranging from a new strategy to dealing with mental health calls to the application of lessons acquired during the pandemic.
Joel Fernandez, a San Antonio resident said that “Infrastructure is a big thing. There’s a lot of potholes and just with just around the country, I mean, there’s a whole bunch of bridges that need assistance, roads”. KSAT12 recently met with some downtown residents to find out what issues they care about in the upcoming budget, as well as City Manager Erik Walsh.
Gustavo Flores, a resident said that “Monitoring mental health, mental health, being assessed for the unsheltered, you know, we’re down here with a lot of unsheltered population and mental health is a big crisis”.
Indeed, mental health is a significant part of the budget, and the new budget includes guidelines for how officials should respond to emergencies. Erik Walsh said that “One area that we’re going to do something a little bit differently is with the mental health calls. And we will have a team of police officers, a paramedic and a clinician all respond to those mental health type calls because it’s not just a police issue. We want to be able to solve those on a long term basis”.
The adjustments to the calls detailed in the budget, according to Walsh, were made for a reason. Walsh stated that “Everybody calls 911 one for everything, so we spent time this year with the community meeting with officers and trying to identify what calls for service do we not need to have a police officer go to; like barking dogs, loud music, fireworks, and instead have other city departments respond to them”. And, given that the budget was created during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare certainly plays a significant role.
Walsh also said that “People may notice more of a renewed investment in public health. And I think that to a certain degree, public health departments in this country are going to be a little bit like fire departments after 9/11. We’re doing the same thing. We’re reinvesting in our public health”.