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UTSA Public Administration Students Host City Council Salary Panel Discussion Dec. 5
(Dec. 4, 2013) -- Public Administration students from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Public Policy will present findings from a civic participation research project they conducted titled "To Pay or Not to Pay? Gathering Public Input on City Council Salaries" on Thursday, Dec. 5 from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Buena Vista Building Meeting Assembly Room (1.338) at the UTSA Downtown Campus.
A panel discussion featuring several community members will follow. The event is free and open to the public.
"The idea behind this project is not to advocate for or against paying City Council members through a salary structure," said Francine Romero, associate dean for the College of Public Policy. "Instead, this project was designed to gauge public opinion on this specific topic and present the research to the community in a clear, concise way."
Late last month, Romero's Contemporary Issues in Public Administration class invited 30 community members from around San Antonio to participate in a research meeting regarding the pros and cons of moving City Council members to a salary structure. The research meeting was the first part of their two-part senior seminar project.
Participants were divided into groups of four to five per table. Students facilitated the discussions, broaching a wide variety of related topics including possible salary ranges for City Council Members, what a salary structure would mean for San Antonio and how the city stacks up against other major cities in the U.S.
Currently, San Antonio, ranked the seventh largest city in the U.S. by the U.S. Census Bureau, pays City Council members $20 per every meeting that they attend. In comparison, San Diego, Calif., ranked the eighth largest city in the country, pays its council members an annual salary of $75,386, according to the 2014 budget report.
The class found that participants were generally in favor of a change, but they felt that there needed to be a larger public dialogue about the topic.
"In 2004, a proposal to amend the city Charter in order to allow a salary approximately equivalent to the median San Antonio income was put forth by former San Antonio Mayor Ed Garza," said Romero. "The proposal was rejected by voters by a 2-1 margin. However, the research meeting findings suggest it might be a good time to revisit the issue at a broader level."
The panel will discuss whether a policy change makes sense for San Antonio, how the City can foster a more expansive public dialogue on this question, and the different challenges that would face a change in salary structure for City Council members. Planned panelists for the event include:
- Elena Guajardo, former San Antonio City Council member
- Gilbert Garcia, reporter for the San Antonio Express-News
- Weston Martinez, president of Texas Freedom PAC
- Bonnie Connor, former councilwoman for District 8
- Christian Archer, San Antonio political and campaign consultant
For more information, contact Erin Jines in the College of Public Policy at 210-458-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Free parking is available in Lot D-3 under IH-35.