Thursday, February 6, 2014


Staff Writer
SANDY OAKS—On Monday, January 27, 2014, the Committee to Incorporate Sandy Oaks (“CISO”) filed an Application for Incorporation with Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff to form the City of Sandy Oaks in southeast Bexar County.   This action follows a vote by the City of San Antonio (“COSA”) on November 21, 2013 that granted Sandy Oaks residents permission to incorporate a 2.4 square mile city.  Permission from San Antonio was required because Sandy Oaks lies within San Antonio’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (“ETJ”).  The filing of the application formally begins the process of incorporation.
     The Texas Local Government Code states that the County Judge must order an election on incorporation within 20 days of being presented a valid application.   The election will be held on May 10, 2014, which is the next uniform election date.  Early voting for the incorporation election will begin April 28, 2014.  Only residents within the proposed city will be eligible to vote in the incorporation election.  The ballot will offer residents two simple options, “For” or “Against.”  A majority vote will authorize the formation of a City of Sandy Oaks, Texas.  Legally the city will be formed when Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff signs an “Order of Incorporation,” which will occur after the official canvassing of the election.   Judge Wolff will next order a special election for the election of a Mayor and five (5) Aldermen to be held approximately eight (8) weeks later. 
     The proposed City of Sandy Oaks lies along the eastside of I-37, just south of Loop 1604 at the Priest-Mathis Road intersection of I-37.  The 2.4 square miles city includes the Waterwood subdivision.  The proposed city will contain a population of approximately 3,000, similar in population to the Town of Hollywood Park, Olmos Park, Shavano Park and larger than the 2012 populations of other Bexar County Cities, such as Balcones Heights (2,819), China Grove (1,224), Elmendorf (1,548), Hill Country Village (1,009), Somerset (1,686), St. Hedwig (2,189), and Von Ormy (1,313).
     In 2013, CISO and COSA engaged in lengthy negotiation over commercial land located at the intersection of 1604 and I-37 that resulted in COSA taking all 4 corners of the intersection.  However, since being given permission to incorporate in November land at the entrance to the Waterwood development has been cleared and platted for commercial development by private land owners. 
     CISO spent the past few months undertaking a viability analysis and determined that the City of Sandy Oaks would be viable and beneficial to residents.  Among the top determinations were:
· a City of Sandy Oaks would be able to provide the services most desired by residents, such as, animal control, additional law enforcement and increased fire hydrants. 
· a tax analysis revealed that a City of Sandy Oaks could operate at a much reduced tax burden to residents than the current tax rate of COSA ($0.56/$100). 
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks avoids the $11,559 per capita public debt that comes with annexation into COSA.   Cumulatively, this per capita share of debt is $40 million dollars for all residents of Sandy Oaks.
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks avoids COSA fees and regulatory costs
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks will return franchise fees currently being paid to other entities to Sandy Oaks
· incorporation of Sandy Oaks strengthens the voting strength of Sandy Oaks voters from 1 of 750,000 (number of COSA registered voters) to  1 of 1300 (number of Sandy Oaks voters)  for municipal elections
· establishes local control and guarantees that municipal government will be focused on the needs of Sandy Oaks residents
     CISO favors modeling themselves after Von Ormy, which incorporated in 2008 and whose focus on privatization and use of reserve public safety personnel has resulted in tremendous cost savings for the delivery of municipal services.   Von Ormy and Sandy Oaks share many demographic and geographic similarities.  Both lie along major interstate highways in South Bexar County leading to the very active Eagle Ford Shale.  Von Ormy’s focus on economic development has allowed them to reduce property taxes by 10% or more the last 4 years while increasing the overall budget of the city by 300%.   Sandy Oaks is in a similar position to do the same.
     CISO Chair Pedro Orduno said, "This is a very exciting time for us.  We are about to do something very historic: start a new city.  Sandy Oaks will be our city. It will be run the way we want it to and provide the services we need.   After two years of struggle, we’ve won an opportunity for independence and local control. ” 
     CISO is represented by attorney and Mayor of Von Ormy, Art Martinez de Vara, who  said, “After two years of hard work the residents of Sandy Oaks have earned the right to be an independent city.   No longer will Sandy Oaks be reliant upon distant government and decision makers for their community, they have come together under the banner of self-governance and taken responsibility for their own community.  I am honored to be involved in such a historic moment.” 

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