Michael Amezquita has served as the chief appraiser of the Bexar Appraisal District since 2003. Photo by Ben Olivo | Heron

» What: EngageSA—Property Appraisal
» When: 5-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 17; discussion begins at 6 p.m.
» Where: Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co., 1902 S. Flores St.
» Cost: Free
» Visit the Facebook event page

Two weeks ago, we launched our EngageSA series, along with co-host Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co., with a lively discussion about how to improve civic engagement and transparency in local government. Last week, we had another outstanding group of experts talking about San Antonio's digital divide.

On Wednesday, the series concludes with a one-on-one talk with me and Michael Amezquita, chief appraiser of the Bexar Appraisal District.

It's the perfect time to talk property appraisals, with notices having gone out a few weeks ago.

We'll go into detail in understanding how the process works. Texas law says properties must be assessed at their market value as of Jan. 1. How does the appraisal district go about determining that value?

Does the tax code truly favor commercial property owners over homeowners? Why do the values of the neighborhoods close to downtown continue at their skyrocketing pace? Will a city-initiated study of the process yield tax relief for property owners?

We'll answer these questions. But more importantly, we'll answer your questions. So come by, have a cocktail or beer—or both—and let's have a civil discussion about the value of our properties.

Participants in the digital inclusion panel discussion on April 10 at Dorćol were Maria Luisa Cesar, Greater Good consulting firm; DeAnne Cuellar, Older Adults Technology Services; Craig Hopkins, City of San Antonio; Minirih Jester, San Antonio Housing Authority; Jordana Barton, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

EngageSA Replay
» April 3: Civic Engagement & Government Transparency
» April 10: Digital Divide

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

» What: EngageSA—Digital Inclusion panel discussion
» When: 5-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 10; discussion begins at 6 p.m.
» Where: Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co., 1902 S. Flores St.
» Cost: Free
» Visit the Facebook event page

On Wednesday, EngageSA, a discussion series co-hosted by the Heron and Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co., continues with cocktails and beer, and a talk about San Antonio’s digital divide.

Last year at a similar event, Jordana Barton, senior adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said a quarter of households in San Antonio don't have Internet access.

What does this economic and social inequity look like in San Antonio and how does it translate into education, workforce development and income inequality? What does our future look like as a city, and what are some things citizens can do to help close the gap?

We've rounded up some experts to help answer these questions and others.

Panelists include Barton; DeAnne Cuellar, state director of Older Adults Technology Services; Munirih Jester, ConnectHome coordinator at the San Antonio Housing Authority; and Craig Hopkins, chief technology officer at the City of San Antonio.

Maria Luisa Cesar with the Greater Good Stories Consulting Firm will moderate.

We hope you'll join us for the latest in our Engage SA series, which launched last week with a discussion about civic engagement and transparency in local government. Click here to view the live stream.

Next week, on Wednesday, April 17 at Dorcol, we tackle property appraisals with Michael Amezquita, chief appraiser of the Bexar County Appraisal District. View the Facebook event page.

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

Panelists participating in EngageSA events in April are District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (clockwise, from top left); Jeff Coyle, City of San Antonio; Cynthia Spielman, Tier One Neighborhood Coalition; Munirih Jester, San Antonio Housing Authority; Michael Amezquita, Bexar County Appraisal District; Jordana Barton, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; DeAnne Cuellar, Older Adults Technology Services; Craig Hopkins, City of San Antonio. Courtesy photos

Before you get your Fiesta on (which starts April 18, by the way), and then vote in the municipal election, why not catch up on some of our city’s most pressing issues?

Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co. and the Heron are teaming up for three community discussions in April that cover government transparency and public engagement; digital inclusion; and property appraisals.

We're calling the series EngageSA, and all events will be held 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays from April 3-17 at Dorcol, 1902 S. Flores St.

Here are the details.

April 3: Government Transparency & Public Engagement

Facebook event page

In January, when the City Council adopted the Public Participation Guiding Principles, it was seen as the city making strides toward a more open and transparent government, and a guidepost for how to give San Antonians more opportunities to participate in the public process. During this panel, we will discuss to what degree will the new guidelines be followed. Are they enough, or are more needed? Is there such a thing as too much public involvement when it comes to crafting citywide policy?

Panelists:

» District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval crafted the set of guiding principles for how San Antonio can increase public participation and transparency in local government that were adopted by City Council in January.

» Cynthia Spielman helped launch the Tier 1 Neighborhood Coalition, which was formed 2½ years ago when downtown area communities felt their neighborhood plans were being altered without their input during the SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan process.

» Jeff Coyle, Government and Public Affairs Director, city of San Antonio, serves as the city's chief lobbyist and spokesperson.

Moderated by Heron Editor Ben Olivo.

...

April 10: Digital Inclusion

Facebook event page

Internet connectivity in San Antonio still has a ways to go. In this panel, members of the Digital Inclusion Alliance of San Antonio will expand on the organization’s objectives (public policy, connectivity, devices, sustainability and training) and their efforts to shorten the city’s digital divide—an economic and social inequity that creates a gap between people who have the skills and access to fully embrace broadband, communications technology and services, and those who do not.

Panelist:

» Jordana Barton, Senior Advisor of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, supports the Federal Reserve System’s economic growth objectives by promoting community and economic development—her focus areas include the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), digital inclusion and the digital economy, workforce development, and financial education.

» DeAnne Cuellar, State Director of Older Adults Technology Services, is a digital equity advocate and communications strategist from San Antonio.

» Munirih Jester, Connecthome Coordinator for the San Antonio Housing Authority, is a former Google Fiber / NTEN Digital Inclusion Fellow who now runs the ConnectHome program for the San Antonio Housing Authority.

» Craig Hopkins, Chief Technology Officer, city of San Antonio, spent more than 20 years at USAA leading efforts in customer service, digital transformation, corporate strategy, information technology, procurement and innovation.

Moderated by Maria Luisa Cesar, Greater Good Stories Consulting Firm

...

April 17: Property Appraisals

Facebook event page

Property appraisal season is upon us. The Bexar County Appraisal District is scheduled to mail out property appraisals April 1, and the values of the neighborhoods close to downtown are expected to continue their skyrocketing pace. Why is this happening? How does the property appraisal process work? Will a city-initiated study of the process yield tax relief for property owners?

Michael A. Amezquita, Chief Appraiser of the Bexar Appraisal District since 2003, will have a conversation with Olivo about this topic.

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

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