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Houston City Council Members Heed Mayor’s Warning In Budget Amendments

Wednesday was the deadline for council members to submit their amendments to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s proposed budget, which seeks to close a $160 million deficit.


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When Mayor Sylvester Turner presented a summary of his budget last month, he made sure to emphasize that he did the best he could to close the city's $160 million deficit.

"I hope that the members of city council will resist the urge to tinker too much with the budget," he said at the time.

And it looks like council members listened. Of the fewer than 60 amendments that have been submitted, none ask for additional spending. They either request reallocation of funds or for even more cuts.

"It seems as if the mayor has been very effective at going to council and saying, ‘I've been through the budget; I've scrubbed it, these are the best proposals I can have,'" Bob Stein, a political scientist at Rice University, said. "And most of the council is going along with him."

And, he said, it highlights how few options there are if the city wants to balance the budget.

District I Council member Robert Gallegos submitted one amendment, which would expand a sidewalk repair program.

He said he is with the mayor on avoiding any new expenses.

"He made it perfectly clear that any amendments that we do submit, that it shouldn't be of any cost to the city and my amendment would not be a cost to the city," Gallegos said. "The homeowner would still have to be responsible for paying."

At least four council members didn't submit any amendments.

Staff members of some of them said they were satisfied with the mayor's approach.

A spokeswoman with the mayor's office said the amendments are only drafts at this time and council members will decide which of them they want to formally put on the table on May 25, when they are scheduled to consider the budget.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from the mayor’s office.

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