Tweaking of Proposed City Budget Begins

Houston City Council presents amendments to the proposed 2010 operating budget. It is a 4-billion dollar spending blueprint that keeps the property tax rate and spending the same. Council members presented a “wish list” of projects they believe should be included. Pat Hernandez has more.


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It is an event that occurs every year at Houston city hall. The mayor presents his budget, and council members, one by one,  find ways to include what they’d like to see added. Councilmember Jarvis Johnson wants to pad the city’s after school program.

“Work together towards creating educational programs to stop the onslaught of high school drop outs that have been in our community, obviously being a drain on our budgets and quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

He also wants more money for diversity training in cadet classes at the HFD. As a sign of the economic times, Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck wants any new city hire to come onboard…with the mayor’s blessing.

“All civilian employee staffing levels, reflecting occupied full time employee positions, shall be funded at fiscal year ’09 levels, or lower, if recommended by the individual department directors. That’s essentially similar to a hiring freeze.”

She also wants Parks and Recreation to provide a financial review of all city owned golf courses.

“Delivered to the mayor and council within thirty days, a report of the financial viability of each of the courses and their recommendations for possible closures, or other uses to maximize value to the city.”

Councilmember Peter Brown’s amendments have to do with the welfare of city government.

“Putting together a stakeholder committee to find a long term solution to funding our health insurance retiree benefits. Second, is to create a productivity investment fund. It’s an idea that’s worked in other cities, and could encourage innovative thinking in each department with the prospect of funding projects and programs that would actually make the city more efficient.”

Brown also backs an amendment by Councilmember Toni Lawrence that would trim the budgets of each city council office by two percent. Mayor Bill White says he’s impressed with council’s input on the city’s operating budget.

“We’re doing far better than the other big cities in this county, and that’s in part, because we have had a strong local economy, and in part, based on a very disciplined practices at city hall.”

Council must adopt the new budget by July first.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

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