Houston – Mayor Turner and Houston’s City Council announced on Wednesday that the proposed $5.1 billion FY 2022 operating budget was passed.
Turner said the budget prioritizes city services, includes funding for police and fire cadet classes, addresses homelessness and encampments, and increases the response to illegal dumping.
“It is a balanced budget, and we are still meeting the priorities of this city,” Turner said. “We are increasing the number of police officers, addressing police reforms, and we are providing core services.”
The budget also includes an 18% pay increase over three years for Houston firefighters.
However, before the council voted, the Houston fire union announced it planned to ask voters to approve a charter amendment for binding arbitration.
“Today, Houston City Council took the first step in implementing the 18% pay raise for firefighters over three years,” said Turner. “Binding arbitration is not in the taxpayers’ best interest because it would put someone who is not elected or accountable to voters in charge of making decisions about employee salaries and benefits. Instead, the city is ready to negotiate with the firefighters’ union through the regular course of business, which is collective bargaining. That is what we do for HOPE, the municipal employees union, and for the Houston Police Officers Union.”
Like most states and local governments across the nation, the city of Houston faced a record revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In FY 2020, FY 2021, and a portion of FY 2022 alone, the city estimated cumulative revenue losses of $178 million.
“Sales tax is one of our hardest-hit sources with an expected $113 million cumulative loss for those fiscal years. Additionally, we are projecting $65 million in revenue losses from other sources such as Charges for Services, Parking Revenues, Mixed Beverage Tax, and others,” said Turner at the time he rolled out the budget proposal.
Due to COVID-19 and the city’s existing property tax revenue cap, the loss of revenue created a $201 million budget shortfall in the General Fund – the largest deficit in recent city history.
“Thankfully, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, will provide the City with much-needed relief,” said Turner.