May 15, 2013
Message from Mayor Annise Parker
Proposed 2014 City of Houston Budget Focuses on the Future
(scroll down for Fourth Annual Demolition Day information)
On May 14, 2013, I forwarded to Houston City Council a $4.9 billion proposed total city budget for the fiscal year (FY) that begins July 1, 2013. The General Fund, or tax supported portion of the budget, is $2.2 billion. This budget blueprint does not require a tax increase and maintains focus on my five main priorities: jobs and sustainable development, public safety, infrastructure, quality of life and fiscal responsibility.
I believe this budget proposal builds upon the progress of the last 3.5 years. We've cut waste, made city departments more efficient and balanced every budget without raising taxes. We have gone from necessary budget cutbacks and staff layoffs to sustainable economic growth. This budget reflects sound and realistic fiscal policies necessary to fund the city services required for supporting that growth, while also allowing for investment in the future of our city. In making those decisions about the city's future, we will utilize the same strong fiscal management that safely guided us through the economic downturn.
The budget will complete the restoration of services cut two years ago during the economic downturn. It maintains full funding of the Rainy Day Fund, which was achieved in FY13, and includes funding for increased costs associated with employee pension and health benefits, as well as the pay increases mandated by the contracts with the city's three employee unions.
Highlights of FY14 Proposed Budget
Jobs and Sustainable Development
- Hire Houston First will continue to play a role as the city strives to keep our tax dollars in Houston and build the local economy. In the program's first year of existence, more than $139 million of city business was awarded to certified firms, sustaining more than 6,000 jobs
- With aggressive pro-growth policies, city government has helped attract more than $2.2 billion of economic development since Mayor Parker took office in 2010. Overall, the Houston region has generated 250,000 jobs, exported approximately $300 billion in locally-produced goods and services and issued permits for the construction of nearly 74,000 single-family homes in the last three years. Every economic indicator points to more of the same moving forward
- Over two-thirds of the General Fund budget is devoted to public safety
- More than $2.2 million is included in this budget proposal to fund operations of the city's new public safety radio project, which is improving the city's capability to communicate with Harris County and surrounding jurisdictions when fighting crime or responding to natural disaster
- The budget also includes the creation of the Forensic Transition Special Fund to keep separate and account for costs related to the Houston Forensic Science LGC and its ongoing effort to establish an independent crime lab
- Thanks to voter approval of last fall's bond referendum, we will continue to make progress on the removal of dangerous buildings from our neighborhoods
- The elimination of the DNA backlog, an FY13 priority, will be completed this fiscal year
- For the first time ever, there is a General Fund line item of $2.5 million, representing approximately 2% of the average annual Capital Improvement Plan for Public Improvement Programs for infrastructure maintenance, renewal and replacement. These dollars will be used for upkeep to existing city facilities, such as libraries, community centers, and neighborhood fire stations, to help avoid the deferred maintenance issues identified in the recent facilities assessment
- Through Rebuild Houston more than $180 million has already been invested in drainage and street improvements. This is just the beginning of this pay-as-you-go comprehensive infrastructure modernization program that will transform our city over time
- FY2014 will also include additional progress on replacement of city information technology and fleet infrastructure, which has been underfunded for years
Quality of Life
- The number of Houston households with single-stream recycling will double in FY14 from about 100,000 to more than 200,000. The first phase of the expansion will occur in July when approximately 35,000 households are added to the program. About another 70,000 homes will be added during phase two later in the year. The expansion will impact neighborhoods citywide rather than be limited to one specific area of town
- To ensure continued progress on improvements made in recent years and to prepare for completion of the new adoption center, the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control (BARC) will see an increase in funding by approximately $693,683
- Major progress will be made on the Bayou Greenways initiative that will link parks and trails citywide
- The budget also includes funding to continue the Mayor's initiative to solve chronic homelessness
- As part of an ongoing commitment to financial transparency, work continues to improve management and oversight of taxpayer funds. To this end, $676,000 has been included in the budget for enhanced financial controls and audit capabilities. Most of this funding will go to the city's finance department, but some is also allocated to the Office of the City Controller
- The budget also reports several funds that were previously categorized as non-budgeted funds
The FY2014 - 2018 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which will be proposed shortly, complements the mayor's proposed budget in its support of growth and investment in the city's future by focusing on infrastructure and public safety. In FY2012 the city conducted a facilities conditions assessment. This assessment is driving many projects throughout the CIP that address poor facility conditions faced by both citizens and employees, including renovations of Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, fire stations and many neighborhood libraries.
Visit http://www.houstontx.gov/budget/14budprop/index.html for the FY2014 proposed budget.
City of Houston Fourth Annual Demo Day
Blighted and Hazardous Buildings to be Bulldozed Saturday, May 18
Ensuring public safety and enhancing the quality of life for residents are top priorities for the City of Houston. One way to accomplish these goals is by eliminating blighted, dangerous buildings in our neighborhoods. The Fourth Annual Demo Day, Saturday, May 18, 2013, launches Mayor Annise Parker's 2013 Demolition Initiative to demolish 136 hazardous structures at locations across the city during May and June.
On Demo Day, Houston Contractors Association volunteers will kick off the initiative by razing a portion of these 136 buildings. The debris will be cleared in the weeks that follow. The City's target date for the completion of all projects is July 31, 2013.
The buildings approved for demolition consist of residential, commercial and multi-family structures. The buildings were selected from a list of properties for which the hearing orders have expired and which the property owners have failed to bring into compliance.
For a list of buildings approved for demolition, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/citizensnet/2013demolitionlist.pdf. The demolition list is subject to change daily.
The Mayor's Demolition Initiative is administered by Inspections & Public Service (IPS), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods (DON). For questions, email email@example.com or call IPS at 832.394.0600. For more information on IPS and DON, visit www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods.