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Houston Approves Billion Dollar Infrastructure Plan, But Is It Fair?

Every year around this time, the Houston City Council approves a five-year plan for infrastructure projects. Taxpayers could spend as much as $8.7 billion on them.

City Hall
Houston City Hall, Photo Credit: Florian Martin

Last week, the City Council passed the 2016 budget, which determines how much the city will be spending on operations. The Capital Improvement Plan, or CIP, focuses on specific projects.

“It is a plan, it’s not a mandate,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker says. “The expectation is, though, that the projects that appear on the CIP are going to be built. It is a five-year look into the future.”  

Throughout the year, council members hold public CIP meetings to get residents’ input for important projects. The administration then proposes how much money each council district gets to spend on their projects.

But not everyone is happy about how the money is distributed.

Council member Dave Martin calls it “totally egregious and inequitable.”

Martin’s District E (Kingwood, Clear Lake) gets only 3 percent of the funds for all council districts. On the other end, Ellen Cohen’s District C (Montrose, Heights, Meyerland) gets more than 20 percent.

The administration says some areas just need more help. But Martin says his district has plenty of needs.

“The district I represent has the least number of community centers in it,” he says. “I think the Clear Lake area has a desperate need for a community center.”  

Martin submitted an amendment asking to distribute the CIP funds equally among all districts. The council is set to vote on the amended CIP when it meets again on July 8.

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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