With half the fiscal year behind her and more than two thirds of the budget gap already closed, Houston Mayor Annise Parker seems almost cheery about the city's finances. She says she's confident she'll be able to trim the remaining $8 million needed to balance the budget.
"We will continue with department by department reviews of services, policies, procedures where we can consolidate and find efficiencies. As we do each one of those exercises, you'll see us operating with fewer people."
While that may sound like layoffs are in the future, Parker is quick to say she's eliminating positions on a department by department basis — not enacting city-wide job cuts.
"This city has not had to have a layoff to balance the budget. Other cities have laid off police officers and firefighters and told people to go home because they couldn't do their paychecks. We are strategically pruning to reduce head count in the City of Houston as we find efficiencies. So we're doing it in, I think, a thoughtful manner."
About 400 employee positions have already been cut or left vacant through attrition and another 100 layoffs are likely in the next few weeks.
And while job cuts and the city's hiring freeze may help balance this year's budget, the city is facing another shortfall next year that could be in excess of $100 million.