Mayor Parker addresses city's challenges

HOUSTON Mayor Parker was blunt, admitting that while Houston is doing better than other major cities, it's going to be tough.

"Houston city government is facing challenges, the most serious of which is balancing the next city budget," she said.

Mayor Parker says in order to balance the budget, some fees, like water and sewer rates, will have to go up, though she won't sacrifice core city services like police and fire protection. Acting Fire Chief Rick Flanagan says he's following that plan.

"Our primary mission is going to be to keep the city safe," he said. "With the budget cuts that we have right now, we're right on target."

However, the mayor has ordered each city department to cut at least three percent from their budget. Newly appointed HPD Chief Charles McClelland admits that even though officers on the streets will not decrease, paperwork at the police department may be slower.

"Some of our administrative stuff that we have to do and staff work, that may slow down a little bit, but we shouldn't see a drop off of services we provide to the public," said McClelland.

Besides the budget, Parker says one of her biggest battles is with Washington is trying to save Johnson Space Center, saying the state of this city will very much depend on the future of NASA.

"Good economy or bad, we simply cannot lose our dream of exploring our solar system and we cannot squander the investment of American taxpayers in human spaceflight at NASA and the Johnson Space Center," said Mayor Parker.

Mayor Parker also said that, as promised during her campaign, she won't be raising city taxes. She said instead she wants to come up with creative solutions, including the use of volunteers

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