In years when money is flush, budget amendments pile up by the dozens. But this year, councilmembers kept their suggestions
to a minimum. The exception is Councilmember Mike Sullivan, who submitted 28 amendments. They include a five percent pay cut for the mayor and councilmembers, a 50 percent cut to advertising services, the elimination of funding for affirmative action monitoring and capping a number of ongoing expenses. All told, it would amount to nearly $36 million in cuts.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker says she hasn't had a chance to review the amendments, but she cautions it's not that simple to trim millions more from the budget.
"We could cut a whole lot more out of the budget, there's no question. It is a matter of deciding that there's a service or program that we no longer need. There's not any efficiencies that you can squeeze out that'll get you there, there's not a way to do it without laying off a significant number of people."
Other councilmembers submitted amendments to save some of the community centers scheduled for closure. Several other amendments deal with procedural issues.
"It creates a good opportunity for dialogue. And as we work through the issues, explain them, discuss them, it's a healthy process."
The council will debate and vote on the amendments and overall $4 billion budget next Wednesday.