Community Connect
Office of the Vice President for Community Services

College of Public Policy

Speak Up, SA

City partners with COPP to gather citizens’ input on budget priorities


Photo courtesy of SA Speak UP

Photo courtesy of SA Speak UP

In 2016, for the second year in a row, the City of San Antonio (COSA) renewed its annual SA Speak Up Project. The project aims to collect demographic information from local residents regarding their personal use of services. Feedback is critical to the city’s budget process. SA Speak Up plays a role is defining budget priorities for city council.

Last year, in partnership with the UTSA College of Public Policy (COPP), COSA collected data from more than 5,000 residents through community outreach efforts and email surveys.

According to a report by Jeff Coyle, director of government and public affairs for the City of San Antonio, the 5,000 participants mark a 62 percent increase in participation compared to 2015.

Bilingual teams from COPP and COSA attended eight community-wide events during the months of April and May, 2016 with an informational booth to make surveys available to residents. In addition to personally collecting surveys, students emailed close to 1000 respondents and received close to 800 responses back. With the college’s help, the City of San Antonio was able to reach a wider audience for providing feedback on topics locals would like to see receive more budget support.

Residents told their City that their highest priorities were streets, sidewalks, and infrastructure. As a result, the City allocated $64 million for streets, $15 million for sidewalks and $2 million for pedestrian safety initiatives.

With the help of a razor-focused digital campaign and bilingual street teams, the City was able to ensure that underrepresented demographics were better informed.

"This partnership helped students better understand the budget process and made their classroom experience more dynamic," said Megan Dodge, adjunct instructor. “The city's budget priorities should be a reflection of the community and the city council.”