HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Tuesday his administration’s priorities for the proposed fiscal year 2023 budget.
City Council will vote on the budget at a later date.
Turner announced the proposed budget for all funds totals $5.71 billion, which is an increase of $487 million or 9% compared to the fiscal year 2022, current budget of $5.22 million.
Here’s how Mayor Turner broke down the city’s budget:
- The enterprise funds account for $364 million of that $487 million increase primarily due to costs of combined utility systems related to the consent decree and other drinking water projects.
- The proposed general fund budget of $2.8 billion reflects increased spending of $102 million or 3.8% from the fiscal year 2022, current of $2.64 billion. This increase is primarily attributable to pay increases for all employee groups, including 6% for the Houston Fire Department, 4% for the Houston Police Department, and 3% for municipal employees for the fiscal year 2023.
Turner said Houston firefighters are getting a pay raise of 18% over a span of three years, HPD will receive a 10.5% pay increase over the next three years and 9% for municipal workers over the next three years.
- Additionally, this budget includes operational funding for facilities such as the new Alief neighborhood center, opening this year. They have been waiting on this for 25 years. The renovation of Kendall Neighborhood Library and Dr. Shannon Walker Library as well.
- 2023 proposed general fund budget utilizes $160 million from the American Rescue Plan funds to recognize the economic impact of COVID-19 and address the reduction of revenues due to the public health emergency.
- Turner said the city needs a strong fund balance for 2023 due to inflation and economic challenges, this proposed budget includes an ending fund balance of $311 million, which is 13.5% of expenditures less debt service and pay as you go well above the minimum 7.5% establish city financial policy. There is a fund balance of $138 million above the 7.5% expenditures of less debt service.
“This budget does not draw down from the fund balance at all. So that 13.5% remains intact. That 138M above that 7.5% is still in the budget,” Turner said. “And neither does this budget include any one-time land sales or defers,” Turner said.
- With regards to the budget’s stabilization fund, Turner said it will be fully-funded by the city , placing the city in a better position heading into hurricane season, with an excess of $20 million.
- With regards to the property tax cap, the city may have to adjust the tax rate to apply with the property rate cap. The City council may be called on to lower taxes again. To provide relief to senior citizens and the disabled, the mayor will propose, in a separate measure in June, to increase the over 65 and disabled tax exemption from $160,000 to $260,000.