What's cut in new city budget?

May 12, 2009 4:08:56 PM PDT
The city has unveiled its new multi-billion dollar budget. It is a detailed plan showing how your taxpayer dollars will be spent.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

If you've ever had a concern about crime, emergency response from emergency crews or perhaps you're not satisfied with drainage in your neighborhood, this affects you.

If you ask Houstonians Leon and Donna Friedman how the city should spend their tax dollars, they have a simple answer.

"A lot of problems with drainage, I'm very concerned about it," said Leon Friedman.

Mayor Bill White agrees saying improving drainage is a major priority but not as important as public safety. In his proposed $2.1 billion general fund budget, 67% will go to fire and police. This includes a new fire station and three fire cadet classes. Public safety is about the only category not facing cuts.

The mayor says even though Houston is in fairly good shape, many unfilled positions in various city departments will remain empty in order to save money.

"We're not having a hiring freeze, but I have asked each department director to give a lot of scrutiny to each new hire," Mayor White said in a news conference. "This has been a challenging budget and we are committed to living within the means of the city and having fiscal discipline."

As with any budget there will be tradeoffs. This version calls for a reduction in police overtime, but officials say the hiring of an additional 479 officers will more than make up the difference.

As for the Friedman's, they don't mind the emphasis on public safety, but just don't want the other pressing issues to be forgotten.

"We want to live in a secure neighborhood, but we want to live in a safe neighborhood where we don't lose sleep over the smallest storm that comes through," said Donna Friedman.

One sign of a tightening economy is the disappearance of bonuses for new police recruits. This city says it doesn't need them because demands for jobs are higher now.

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