Council voted to approve the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget which begins July 1. The total budget is $5.7 billion of which $2.7 billion of that total is the General Fund. The General Fund pays for the Fire Department, Police Department, Solid Waste and Parks. The remaining $3 billion consists of Enterprise Funds such as the Public Works Department and the Airport System. The revenue generated by property taxes increased by 3.8 percent in the last year, despite a reduction in the property tax rate. Although the Mayor’s budget is technically balanced, it relies on $160 million of temporary Federal ARPA money to cover the overspend from last year.
The Mayor’s budget is not structurally sound, because it was balanced using federal money.
I will not vote for a structurally unsound budget. I, along with one of my colleagues, voted against the Mayor’s Budget. The Budget passed by a vote of 15-2.
Council approved final payment of $897,690 for major renovations to the Denver Harbor Pool. Renovations include the removal of the existing slide, shade structures, showers, pool deck, and existing pool finishes; installed a new filter, pumps, valves, and piping in equipment room; provided electrical wiring, conduit, and controls for new pumps; re-worked existing storage room to become new chemical storage room; installed new perimeter piping around pool, new water line and backflow preventer for pool area, new surge chamber, new pool suction and return fittings, new exterior showers and hose bibs for handicapped lifts, new deck drainage system; replaced portions of pool structure; added steps into pool structure; replaced pool deck; installed new plaster and tile in pool, new exterior showers, slide structure, handrails, ADA lifts, and shade structures.
Council authorized a five-year contract for $222,792 between the Fire Department and Methodist Hospital. This contract with Methodist is for human cadaver-based simulation training. The scope of work requires Methodist to provide equipment, labor, and supervision necessary to perform lab-based professional service staging of human cadaver simulation training. Methodist will provide the EMS paramedics with critical thinking, scenario-based experiences to simulate patients requiring basic and advanced airway medical attention. Paramedics will be trained for emergency situations that compromise/obstruct a citizen’s airway and breathing in oxygen to sustain life. The lab training encompasses a variety of advanced emergency airway techniques. The use of human cadaver-based simulation closely approximates the actual working conditions that EMS paramedics encounter daily.
Council approved spending $2,601,309 for the ongoing Neighborhood Sewer Rehabilitation Program. This multi-year program is required to renew and replace various deteriorated neighborhood collection systems throughout the city. The project involves sanitary sewer cleaning and television inspection in support of rehabilitation. The purpose is to reduce sanitary sewer overflows, which is accomplished by cleaning the sewer lines and television inspection to identify sewer lines in need of rehabilitation and renewal. The work to be performed under this contract award is necessary to maintain compliance with Houston’s wastewater consent decree with EPA and TCEQ.
Council voted unanimously to increase the homestead exemption for owners aged 65 or older and disabled homeowners by $100,000. The exemption for these two categories of homeowners escalates the City’s exemption from $160,000 to $260,000. The approximate savings for the median home value will save these property owners approximately $400 annually.
Council authorized spending $369,746 for the relocation and construction of HPD offices, K-9 kennels, and Transportation Security Administration bunkers from their location at Hobby Airport to a site nearby on Telephone Road. This relocation is necessary due to the upcoming Southwest Airlines Maintenance Hangar Development project.
Council approved spending $1,375,000 over seven years for a Library contract to provide digital databases and collection services. Databases and digital collections include legal resources, business and investing research, genealogical research, educational tools, journal articles and newspaper collections, and other digital resources of a similar nature in English and other languages.
Council approved spending $11,375,000 with a vendor to provide concrete panel replacements throughout the city. To increase the lifespan and quality of a street, concrete panel replacements reconstruct a section of the street in poor quality, typically a section measuring 11 feet wide by 20 feet in length. By reconstructing an inferior portion of a street rather than the entire street, the city saves money and dramatically reduces the time for construction.
Council approved final payment of $6 million to two contractors who performed repairs and reconstruction on several storm water drainage systems over the past three years throughout the city. These types of drainage contracts continue to be performed on an ongoing basis around the city.
Council authorized spending $3,058,423 in federal grant funds to pay for the “Emergency Rental Assistance Program” for households that have been affected by Covid. These restricted funds provide funding from June 15, 2022, through May 31, 2023, to prevent evictions for affected Houstonians.
Council approved a contract for $5,175,423 with a local contractor to renew and replace deteriorated neighborhood wastewater collection systems throughout various parts of the city. The purpose is to reduce sanitary sewer overflows.
Council approved payment of $2.3 million to a contractor to de-silt, clear, and regrade ditches around the city. This contract is one of many ongoing projects the city has with various contractors to clean out ditches to mitigate flooding. The city has approved spending $40 million for these types of ditch projects for Fiscal Year 2023 which begins July 1, 2022.