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Turner Presents A $2.5 Billion City Budget For FY 2018 That He Describes As “Bare Bones”

The Mayor says it includes reductions in 23 departments worth almost $50 million.

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Kelly Dowe, Director of Finance for the City of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards and Houston City Council Member Jack Christie attended a press conference held at City Hall where Turner presented his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018.
From left to right: Kelly Dowe, Director of Finance for the City of Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards and Houston City Council Member Jack Christie during the press conference Turner held at City Hall to present his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner describes the City budget he is proposing for Fiscal Year 2018 as a "bare bones" one.

The budget amounts to 2.5 billion dollars, but the City of Houston would be able to provide basic services and not to spend a lot on maintaining its facilities or modernizing its aging fleets.

"Within this budget are department reductions of 49.6 million, right at 50 million dollars. Those are reductions that come from 23 of our departments," Turner explained during a press conference held at City Hall on Tuesday.

Turner says that under the budget he is proposing there would be very few layoffs, mostly through attrition.

Kelly Dowe, the City's director of Finance, explains higher staffing levels in the Fire Department have helped with the cuts they needed to make.

"The Fire Department staffing has increased and, so, you need less overtime," Dowe told Houston Public Media and added that the same principle of needing les overtime applies to the Houston Police Department, although it has had lower staffing gains than the Fire Department.

Turner also warned he might have to make adjustments to the budget if the Texas Legislature finally passes a version pension bill, which he says would increase the City's unfunded liability by including an amendment introduced by Representative Dwayne Bohac (Republican-Houston) that would exempt more than 3,000 retired firefighters from benefit cuts.

According to the City's calculations, that would add approximately $400 million to Houston’s unfunded liability.

The Mayor's goal is to have the budget approved by the end of May and it would take effect on July First.

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