The associations representing San Antonio Police and Firefighters are 'calling B.S.' on a statement released form the Board of Directors of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce demanding the public safety officers quickly agree to cuts in their health care benefits, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"Further inflaming the community-wide discussion with inaccuracies during a delicate time period warranted more discretion on behalf of the Chamber membership," the associations said.
Chamber President Richard Perez said the need is urgent for the officers to accept health plans closer to those provided to non uniformed city employees and to private sector workers, with the employee obligated to pay a substantial portion of their health care costs. Police and firefighters now pay nothing in terms of premiums.
"Its a looming crisis, and we need there to be action as soon as possible to address these costs, and to get them more in line with our peer cities like Austin, Dallas, etc." Perez said.
But the police and fire associations say that amounts to hypocrisy from an organization which has never seen a budget-busting bond issue or municipal project it didn’t' embrace.
"It is a serious concern when the Chamber has advocated for several high priority citywide legacy projects where public approval is not near the level of support for the uniformed officers," the associations said. "By this action, it appears the Chamber leadership believes projects like the Streetcar are more important than fire trucks and police cars."
The Associations said the 'general membership' of the Chamber disagrees with the Chamber leadership on the issue, and points to surveys showing more support for maintaining police and fire health care plans than with expensive city projects like the downtown streetcar and toll roads.
But Perez says the health care costs are jeopardizing the public services that the city's growing 'brainpower community' of young educated people desire in a city.
"Because of the mobility of our young people nowadays, our young professionals, quality of life is right up there with taxes as a top priority," Perez said, citing things like good streets, libraries, and parks.
But the police and fire associations says police and fire protection is important to these individuals as well.