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Much Talk About Budget In New Houston Mayor’s First Full-Length Council Meeting

Sylvester Turner’s first full city council meeting went right to the crux of Houston’s problems.

Sylvester Turner
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner presides over his first full city council meeting Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.

First up on the agenda was the first monthly budget report of 2016. And newly inaugurated City Controller Chris Brown took his first meeting to “sound the alarm” on the projected $126 million deficit.

“Our unfunded pension liabilities and healthcare costs continue to rise in an alarming rate,” Brown said, “all while sales tax revenues declined and voter-imposed property tax revenue cap limits the amount of money we take in.”

Fixing the city’s budget shortfall is top of the list for Turner.

He announced in his inaugural speech that his administration will develop a plan to balance the budget long-term and solve the problem of the city’s pension liabilities.

“I’m visiting with people already,” he said after the council meeting Wednesday. “But I think everyone has to participate. I think in order to get to a positive end, everyone will have to engage in shared sacrifice, and I’m already making those contacts.”

Turner also said city staff have been meeting to develop a system to fix potholes within 24 hours of when they are reported.

The goal is to implement that starting in two weeks, but Turner encourages residents not to wait and contact the city right now to report bad roads.

It sounds like they are already doing that. Turner said daily reports of potholes have tripled since his announcement Monday.

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Florian Martin

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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