From the Mayor's Office of Communications
The Houston City Council approved Mayor Sylvester Turner’s proposed $4.9 billion municipal government operating budget on May 30, balancing revenue and spending without new taxes or layoffs of city workers.
“This is a forward-looking budget that addresses the economic uncertainties facing Houston. At the same time, it upholds my priorities: public safety first and foremost, wise financial stewardship and a welcoming city that offers opportunities to everyone,” the mayor said. “I thank council members for their support, input, passion and understanding.”
Damage from Hurricane Harvey presented the city with steep, unexpected costs. But Mayor Turner proposed a third consecutive balanced annual budget by tapping the city’s fund balance and continuing to reduce city department spending by a total of more than $80 million during the last three years.
Balancing the Fiscal Year 2019 budget was also aided by huge savings from the mayor’s groundbreaking pension reform efforts. The Texas Legislature approved the mayor’s pension reforms in 2017, and voters followed through in November by overwhelmingly approving a pension bond issue, saving the city $300 million this year alone.
The budget fully funds the pension obligation, with no deferments and no one-time sales of city real estate.
Mayor Turner carved out room in the budget for five police cadet classes and three firefighter cadet classes to keep first response services strong.
Where spending is rising in parts of the budget, the changes are for salary increases that are expected from benefits negotiations with police, fire and municipal employees’ unions.
The mayor also drew attention to what is not in the budget: $70 million to $100 million to hire 500 hundred additional police officers during the next five years, the City’s 10-15% share of hurricane recovery costs that are not paid by FEMA, replenishment of the $20 million that was taken from the Budget Stabilization Fund to cover other Harvey costs, and more.
Mayor Turner said plans to address those costs are limited by a city revenue cap imposed by voters in 2004. But his drive toward additional long-term financial solutions will continue on behalf of taxpayers and other residents.
“The budget provides the foundation for addressing future challenges with a practical, balanced approach,” the mayor said.