HOUSTON – The city received $404 million in federal stimulus money to help with the costs directly related to COVID-19, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner.
It won’t help with what the mayor is calling the worst budget in the city’s history.
Mayor Turner said they do not have the flexibility to use those funds to relieve the city’s budget woes. It cannot be used for anything previously budgeted.
That means the money won’t prevent budget cuts, furloughs and the cancellation of five Houston Police Department cadet classes.
The mayor is hoping legislators will make changes to allow cities to use it how they see fit.
“That’s why we’re asking the federal government to give us the flexibility to address the things that were specifically caused by COVID-19 if our city and cities across the state, we have had a reduction in our sales tax, directly related to COVID-19, so allow us the flexibility to fill in the gaps there,” said Turner.
The mayor was working to determine if rental assistance for those in need could be used with the stimulus money.
During the meeting, council members also agreed to buy masks and other PPE for officers and firefighters.
They also voted to replace four Houston Fire Department fire trucks damaged in Hurricane Harvey.