As Houston Mayor Bill White prepares to pass the baton to his successor, he seems a little like a concerned father handing over the car keys to a newly licensed teenager.
White spent the past three months analyzing the budget and revenue projections for fiscal year 2011 — a budget he won't even be around to oversee.
"This is not binding on anybody. This is not being presumptuous."
Instead, the mayor says his recommendations are intended to reassure taxpayers that city hall is tightening the belt. And he says it's critically important for the new Administration to operate under realistic budget projections.
"By any measure, our projections are conservative. Conservative in the sense that we are anticipating a long and deep recession."
In fact, White projects almost no growth for 2011, showing just a $2 million increase in both revenues and expenditures.
That's a drop in the bucket of the city's $1.9 billion budget.
And the mayor says his successor must be prepared to makeÎ¾adjustments throughout the fiscal year.
"About this time every year there has always been, for the following fiscal year, a gap. And the gap was the difference between what people want and the resources we think is available. So the gap will go away, but it's important that you work on this — that we work on this gap — and that whoever is at city council table and at the departments work on this gap every single day."
White wrote a four-page memo outlining some of his thoughts on the most pressing areas the incoming mayor will need to consider, including pension contributions, healthcare costs and property taxes.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.