City of Houston officials delay voting on 2 important financial matters

Chaz Miller Image
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
City council delays vote on Houston's $6.7 billion budget proposal
Council members delayed voting on Houston's budget proposal on Wednesday to further study the city's finances.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- There are a lot of questions about the City of Houston's finances at the present time.

Are we broke?

How can we afford to give firefighters $650 million in back pay?

How did we eliminate any shortfalls in the proposed $6.7 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year?

Let's start with the budget.

The city council was scheduled to vote on its approval on Wednesday, but it was delayed so they could offer amendments and spend more time analyzing its particulars.

That is a common practice when it comes to something as important as the city's budget.

Mayor John Whitmire, who has said publicly that the city is broke, calls the proposed budget balanced thanks to federal funds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

That won't be an option after the upcoming fiscal year, so Whitmire has said "everything is on the table" for future budgets. That could include raising taxes, establishing a garbage collection fee, and cutting spending across city departments.

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Houston Mayor John Whitmire reportedly has plans to stop the $3.5 million "ShotSpotter" program, which is aimed at combating crime in the city.

Whitmire said other issues factored into his decision to avoid asking the public for additional funds at the current time.

"I did not want to ask for new revenue until we could assure the public that there are not more water contract corruption deals," Whitmire said. "That there aren't conflicts of interest."

The city council was also supposed to vote on approving $650 million for firefighter back pay on Wednesday, but that was delayed so Controller Chris Hollins could take a closer look at the proposal.

Hollins told ABC13 that that amount of money requires a bond that will ultimately cost the city more than $1 billion by the time it is paid off in "25 to 30 years."

The controller added that he doesn't think the city is broke but does agree that changes need to take place in order to maintain good fiscal health.

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