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Mayor Turner Warns Houston Faces Budget Shortfall Of Up To $160 Million

Turner will send his first budget to Houston City Council in April. With the exception of law enforcement, most city services are looking at funding cuts of 5 to 7 percent.


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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the city's budget shortfall is at least 15 percent larger than previously estimated. City revenues are down both from royalty payments on crude oil production and from sales taxes. Turner warns both will likely keep falling for some time.

"Initially, when I came into office, we anticipated the shortfall would be about $126 million," Turner said, speaking as a guest on Houston Matters. "But I have upped that, and I am preparing a budget that I will submit to City Council in about a month that will anticipate the shortfall to be anywhere between $145 to $160 [million]."

The mayor said he aims to spread budget cuts as widely as possible.

"I've asked every department, for example, to submit to me budgets of 5 to 7 percent reductions," he said. "And I have taken a look at all of those, and then I've analyzed them in terms of low risk in terms of a reduction to city services, mild risk, and high risk. So anything that will impact severely city services to Houstonians, I pretty much have taken those things off the table."

Turner said he plans to eliminate several dozen vacant city jobs. Under the most conservative scenario, the mayor said he would also have to lay off nearly 100 employees.

He specifically ruled out cuts to law enforcement, though, saying the city needs to hire more police officers.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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