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Judge Wolff promises tax relief, praises economic rebound from pandemic in State of the County address

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff touched on everything from the Spurs to promising property tax relief for Bexar County residents.

SAN ANTONIO — Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff will be retiring from the seat he’s held for 20 years. In one of his last addresses, he’s touching on all issues facing the county as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The North San Antonio Chamber hosted the address in the Grand Hyatt on Wednesday.

Judge Nelson Wolff spent a lot of time discussing how COVID impacted San Antonio.

“We went through four major surges, and the thing that was extraordinary about it, well, nature is pretty random but there’s some rhythm to it all,” Judge Wolff said after the first address since his new book release.

The book describes the challenges of the pandemic, including political battles and trying to keep people safe, despite fighting misinformation and legal challenges.

Right now, Bexar County has a 9.7% positivity rate, and the COVID risk is low, but worsening according to the city’s dashboard.

“I think we’re going to be okay, but it’s still out there and the vulnerable could get themselves in serious trouble,” Judge Wolff said.

What he’s leaving behind is a roadmap to improve infrastructure, public health, and property taxes for Bexar County.

CPS Energy

In Judge Wolff’s remarks, he thanked CPS Energy and interim CEO Rudy Garza for managing six energy-producing plants while others across the states were taken offline.

Judge Wolff says cryptocurrencies have come in to suck up tremendous electrical power. He says CPS Energy will have to take a balanced approach in using energy sources.

“Renewable energy like solar right now is great, during the winter it’s not so great…but it’s never going to be enough for all of that so you’re going to have to have some fossil fuel, and we just need to be responsible about that,” Judge Wolff said.

Judge Wolff and the Commissioners Court strengthened the commitment to renewable energy by ordering 16 electric vehicles for the county, which they expect to receive within one year.

Bridging the digital divide

Judge Wolff acknowledged that during the height of the pandemic, some of their digital messaging wasn’t getting to people who did not have Internet access.

Judge Wolff says there is a plan to expand broadband Internet access to the southwest and southeast portions of the county where there is not a huge amount of homes, yet.

“If you can get the backbone there, which is what we would use our funds for, then you would have a partnership with AT&T, Google, Verizon or whoever to actually provide that service to the customer,” Judge Wolff said.

He hopes residents will be able to access those services with the help of federal government programs if needed.

Property taxes

Judge Wolff says the county will also be addressing property tax relief. He says they will look at expanding the $5,000 homestead exemption recently passed by the county and says he wants to handle bringing the property tax rate down in a “responsible way.”

What’s next?

What he’s leaving behind is a roadmap to improve infrastructure, public health, and property taxes for Bexar County.

He knows there will be different priorities and challenges for his successor to address.

But after decades of public service—there is one thing that has kept him going.

“I’ve always liked the fact that, you pick something you think will make a difference and put your energy into it, and that’s sort of what I try to live by,” Judge Wolff said.

Judge Wolff will address the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce later this year.

Judge Wolff believes lecturing or teaching is in his future after he steps down.

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