SAN ANTONIO -- The biggest debate of the city budget season raged on Tuesday, nearly three weeks after Mayor Ivy Taylor and members of city council said that it was time to reevaluate how the city divides up money for 'safety net' programs.
The comments, made during a June 8 budget work session, continue to echo through the halls of local non-profits who partially rely on the city for annual funding.
Records obtained by the I-Team show that in the last fiscal year, more victims from District 2 were housed at the Battered Women and Children's Shelter than any other council district in San Antonio.
Mayor Taylor responded to the data findings on Monday, saying she is well aware of the critical services provided by domestic violence and child abuse prevention programs in San Antonio, while adding that programs that help to reduce or eliminate poverty also need renewed attention.
"We never discussed any specifics or any specific cuts," said Mayor Taylor, who added that she was simply spring boarding off a council survey earlier this year that recommended more funding for workforce development.
Taylor went on to say that she was not even referring to the topic of domestic violence when she stated it was time to rethink the city's investment in safety net programs, which include the Rape Crisis Center and the Battered Women and Children's Shelter.
Council has discussed cuts of $1.3 million (6.4%) to safety net funding, according to a funding priorities slide prepared by city budget staff.
"I do not want to face that woman who was killed tonight because I did not have that extra cot," Family Violence Prevention Services President and CEO Marta Pelaez said Tuesday, expressing the importance of every dollar she receives from the city.
Pelaez said that in the last fiscal year, FVPS received around $310,000 for its emergency shelter program and Haven for Hope homelessness prevention program.
Playing off the phrase 'safety net', Pelaez said that removing a single dollar from domestic violence and child abuse prevention programs is the equivalent of removing the net and letting these victims hit the concrete.
Pelaez pointed out that the city capped its funding of FVPS 15 years ago. During that same time period, costs to run the organization have tripled, according to Pelaez.
"It would be shortsighted and dangerous for us not to talk about the real impact," District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg said Tuesday, continuing his criticism of the mayor's work session comments. "These are not nameless, faceless organizations."
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