HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner delivered his first state of the city address Wednesday after it had been rescheduled due to recent flooding. He spoke in front of the Greater Houston Partnership at the Hilton Americas downtown.
The flooding that devastated multiple Houston neighborhoods — many of which are still recovering — were the centerpiece of his address. Turner also spoke about city pensions and public safety.
“I planned this speech with an emphasis on financial health of Houston, but rainfall and flooding had other plans,” he said.
It was announced former Houston City Councilman Stephen Costello will serve as flood czar, which will allow him to oversee the city’s efforts to improve drainage and reduce flooding risks.
“We can never eliminate but we can mitigate the risk,” the mayor said.
Turner also touted his pre-election promise to fix reported potholes in one business day, recognizing the city workers who helped him keep that pledge.
“As of yesterday public works had filled more than 2,750 potholes,” Turner said.
In the end, Turner was able to discuss the Houston’s financial situation, including its $160 million budget shortfall. He called the shortfall the worst fiscal challenge the city has faced since the Great Recession. The city reports having closed the budget gap, having addressed revenues and spending.
In the near future, the mayor anticipates announcing a plan to move 175 police officers from office jobs and back to the streets. It’s a plan the city hopes will help with public safety.