Bexar County and the City of San Antonio are two separate governments serving largely the same citizens and area. Our two governments have separate foundations in the Texas Constitution, and as a result they have radically different internal structures. They also differ substantially in their revenue structures. Yet despite these differences, metropolitan San Antonio is an integrated multi-county region economically and socially, and it needs to become equally integrated governmentally.
On February 12, 2002, Commissioners Court approved the Bexar County/City of San Antonio Plan for City – County Cooperation (City Council approved the plan on February 14, 2002). This document is an initial expression by Bexar County and San Antonio of our joint commitment to create a more seamless and integrated structure of local government. It sets out a vision for city – county government at the beginning of the 21st century and is a major step toward improving working relationships and providing better service for taxpayers. It sets out some principles of general policy that both governing bodies agree will guide this effort. Attached to these elements of agreement is a specific "work program" that the staffs of both governments will work to implement during 2002, developing particular agreements within the general policy principles.
Health Care Summit and Commission
Bexar County is addressing the challenges facing our Hospital District and our entire local health care system. On September 10, 2001, the County Judge and the Mayor of San Antonio convened a regional "Health Care Summit" that included nearly 400 leaders in medicine, business, and government. Participants focused on five critical healthcare challenges facing our community: financial, workforce, preventive care, mental health, and trauma care. They developed then put forward policy and program recommendations on how best to address the challenges. To follow-up on these recommendations, the "Health Care Summit Commission" was formed. The Commission, chaired by former mayor Bill Thornton, will implement these initiatives and develop new ideas that achieve the various goals of the Summit laid out in the County Judge's Inaugural Statement before Commissioners Court.
Recently, San Antonio was singled out by a national publication as one of the nation's major cities that needed improvement in the area of physical fitness. One of the key recommendations to come out of the Health Care Summit was to convene a group of prominent citizens who would help promote preventive health measures among our residents. Accordingly, the Mayor of San Antonio and the County Judge formed the Mayor's Council on Physical Fitness. This group will help implement a "Fit City" campaign currently being planned by the City of San Antonio and the Bexar County Health Care Collaborative. In addition, Fitness Council members will join Mayor Garza and Judge Wolff at various public appearances throughout the year to advance the goals of both the "Fit City" campaign and the city-county Health Care Summit.
Metropolitan Partnership for Energy (MPE)
County government should have a significant role in addressing our community's environmental and energy challenges. To that end, Bexar County, the City of San Antonio, and City Public Service (CPS) joined with other key organizations on August 31, 2001 to create the Metropolitan Partnership for Energy (MPE). Other Partners include the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority, Greater Bexar County Council of Cities, and Solar San Antonio. As noted in the Bylaws, the mission of the MPE is to "protect and enhance the quality of life of the citizens of the metropolitan San Antonio area by providing energy leadership, expertise, and education and by developing regionally cooperative programs for the wise, efficient and sustainable use of energy."
San Antonio Mobility Coalition (Transportation Alliance)
To identify, publicize, and advance the implementation of sound transportation solutions for our region, Bexar County, in conjunction with the City of San Antonio, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), VIA Metropolitan Transit, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and others formed the San Antonio Mobility Coalition, Inc. (SAMCo). SAMCo is funded by both public entities and private organizations and companies, which include major San Antonio headquartered corporations, chambers of commerce, transportation construction and supply industry, the real estate development community, consulting engineers and other interested organizations. SAMCo will help ensure that the transportation needs of San Antonio and Bexar County are met and that our community receives its fair share of transportation resources.
Bexar County has an important role to play in historic preservation. Implementation of the Bexar County Courthouse Historic Master Plan is already underway, but there is much more to do. The Hidalgo Foundation was established in October 2001 so that Bexar County could restore and maintain one of its most recognized historic structures – the Courthouse. Built between 1892 and 1897, the Bexar County Courthouse is the largest in the State of Texas. The Hidalgo Foundation will raise private funds to match the public funds that are being utilized to restore the Courthouse interior.