The coronavirus pandemic caused personal and fiscal hardships for many of us. Fortunately, the City of Houston will avoid a massive budget shortfall thanks to more than $600 million in State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
But for the dollars being made available by Congress and the President, there would have been major budgetary cuts and layoffs. Without this needed influx of federal funds, the city would have had to close a $201 million budget gap in fiscal year 2021-2022.
The ARPA funds are helping protect the salaries of our first responders, including police, EMS, health, and solid waste workers who continued to work every day and are critical to our struggle with COVID-19. And yes, finally, we were able to give our firefighters an 18 percent raise over the next three years.
The overall budget for this fiscal year will represent a five percent increase over last year. Most of the federal funds will go to replace revenues lost due to COVID-19 and associated drops in sales tax collection in the General Fund, but we expect to have a small amount left over for some priority projects outlined on this website.
Unfortunately, the pandemic still has not run its course. We'll continue to be mindful next year, and the year after next, because we will still be impacted by the coronavirus and there will still be impacts on our tax revenue. The Biden Administration recognizes this as well, so the Fiscal Recovery Funds will be distributed in two tranches. The first tranche of $303.8 million was received in May. The second tranche of $303.8 million will be delivered in May of 2022.
This site will help provide transparency on how, together with City Council, the City of Houston looks to recover. With your help, we will come back from the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever.
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