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District J Journal -June 9, 2017

City Council Passes 2018 Budget

city council

On Wednesday, May 31st, City Council adopted its General Operating Budget for FY 2018. The $2.38 Billion General Operating budget is funded in large part by ad valorem real property taxes, sales taxes and some fees. The City's CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) Budget will be voted on by Council during the month of June, 2017. You can find information on the FY18 Operating Budget here.

Council Restores CDSF Budget to Original Levels

map

Click the map for a more detailed look

In passing the FY18 Operating Budget, Council restored the Council District Service Fund ("CDSF") to its original amount of $1 million dollars.

The CDSF was created by City Council in 2014 with its first year of operation allocating $1 million per district for Fiscal Year 2015. The CDSF's primary purpose is to provide funds to each of the City's eleven council districts to address smaller, neighborhood-requested projects. In District J the dollars have been used for repairs and new construction of sidewalks, ADA ramps, traffic diverters, speed cushions, streetlights, street signs, improvements to Forum and Rasmus Parks and The Station Skatepark at Burnett Bayland Park. A representative list of District J projects can be found by clicking the map above. The projects were directly requested by the neighborhoods of District J.

In FY2017 Council reduced the amount of the CDSF to $750,000, in light of anticipated budget restraints. By returning the $250,000 to the CDSF, Council decided to return to neighborhoods and citizens a greater voice in addressing local needs. The recovery of a total of $1 million to the CDSF did not negatively impact the Budget or increase spending - it merely expanded neighborhood options for how best to spend taxpayer dollars.

Shopping Cart Amendment Defeated

shopping cart

During last years budget debate I sponsored a budget amendment that instructed the City's Solid Waste Department to devise a program to collect abandoned shopping carts. Passage of that FY17 Amendment led to the creation of a Shopping Cart Task Force and a second pilot project to collect carts in Districts J and I. You can see a copy of the Co-Chairs Report of the Task force by clicking here.

The Task Force and pilot projects further demonstrated the need for City action in organizing a city-wide collection program. The first pilot program ending in January 2016 collected 870 carts in District J during a 90 day period. During the ongoing 2017 pilot program 786 carts have been collected in District J, and 676 carts have been collected in District I. So, 1,462 carts have been collected to date in this year's pilot program. These pilot projects have been paid for with CDSF Funds. Clearly we have too many carts clogging our public spaces and waterways.

This year, I sponsored another budget amendment again calling upon the City to move forward in creating a city-wide collection program. Unfortunately the Administration did not support the amendment causing it to be defeated. While I am disappointed I am not deterred. I will continue to use District J's CDSF funds to address the blight and safety hazards of abandoned shopping carts in our neighborhoods and work to create a much needed citywide collection program.

Push Forward,
- Council Member Mike Laster, District J

Suits for Success

suits for success

Suits for Success is a non-profit organization focused on providing free business suits for deserving underprivileged male high school seniors at Sharpstown High School, in anticipation for high school graduation and life beyond.

The non-profit also provides students access to the L.I.F.E. (Lessons Invaluable for Eternity) School. The program consists of resume building, job interview techniques, a "how-to" on tying ties, along with other self-improvement and confidence building exercises.

If you have an unused jacket you're interested in donating or would like to learn more about the program, click here!

The Month in Pics

gulfton festival

Mayor Turner stopped by the 25th Annual Gulfton Festival to present a proclamation

urban land institute

Council Members Davis, Green and Laster and City Controller Brown at the Urban Land Institute Leadership Luncheon

chief acevedo

HPD Police Chief Art Acevedo hosted a Q&A at the Braeburn Glen Civic Association

garden of hope

Council Member Laster attends an open house of the "Garden of Hope" at the Southwest Multi-Service Center. The garden was made possible by a collaboration of the Somali Bantu Community of Greater Houston and the Houston Health Department