Will San Antonio Get Debt for Christmas? - Texas Scorecard

In the midst of the holiday season, city officials are attempting to pile more debt on taxpayers in order to purchase a palatial office space for city employees.

Tomorrow, the City of San Antonio will vote on the issuance of $52 million in Certificates of Obligation for the purpose of purchasing the old Frost bank Tower downtown.

The item on tomorrow’s agenda states the debt will be used for: “(i) acquiring an existing building known as Frost Tower to be used to consolidate City administration into a single facility, and (ii) the payment of professional services (including closing costs) related to the acquisition and financing of the aforementioned project…”

This is nothing new to the city – they have been arranging the bits and pieces of the deal for the new Frost Bank tower for quite some time, and as part of that, the city has been planning on purchasing the old tower for their own purposes – which means they could have prepared better for the expenditure.

Instead, they’re sneaking in the spending as extra debt by using certificates of obligation – a mechanism whereby municipalities can stack on debt without voter approval. Certificates of obligation are typically reserved for emergency spending items, such as flooding or other natural disasters – not longtime planned capital expenditures on bureaucratic wants.

The Alamo City already has $1.6 billion in outstanding ad-valorem debt that has not been approved by voters. Rather than make sacrifices in order to achieve what they want, city officials would rather approve themselves a new Christmas present – courtesy of San Antonio taxpayers.