As we begin a new year, I first want to thank all city employees for the outstanding work you did in 2021 for the people of Houston. We continued to move forward because of your commitment and loyal service to making our City the best place to live, work, and seek opportunities for employment and education.
We ended the year with excellent news about our three pension systems. Today, the City is in a much stronger financial position than when I took office. Our pensions are safe and will be available when you retire. We also announced that we are addressing the Other Post-Employment Benefits. You will soon hear from Human Resources about OPEB Informational Sessions for employees scheduled between January 2022 and March. I encourage everyone to participate in the important meetings.
As we begin 2022, we are entering a third year facing multiple challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. The Omicron variant is highly contagious and continues to fuel a surge in cases that will likely continue for several weeks. All employees working in municipal facilities must wear a face mask to help slow the virus from spreading in the work environment. Ultimately, wearing a face mask may help protect your loved ones at home and the friends you spend time with away from the office. I want all employees to get vaccinated, boosted, and tested often. The Houston Health Department continues to lead a remarkable response and has opened five mega testing sites throughout Houston to meet demand and expand capacity. You can find locations at www.houstonemergency.org.
While we work to protect the health and safety of all Houstonians, we will continue our progress on major projects. My goal for this year is to keep the focus on core services and to complete the work that we started last year. In a recent meeting with department directors, I expressed my intention for the City to stay within budget and meet our obligations.
I also want to see robust work to improve public safety response and solid waste operations. We will prioritize the 50/50 Parks Initiative, address homelessness and affordable housing, and focus on Complete Communities. I also want to see continued maintenance to improve our streets and begin a program to maintain ditches.
This list is not exhaustive, and we will remain nimble and act with a sense of urgency and be intentional to respond to the challenges that lie ahead.
Together, we will continue to enhance the quality of life for every Houston.
I look forward to working with you in 2022!