In the News

Mayor of Houston defends his proposed property tax hike

Sep 15, 2017, 1:19pm CDT

Jen Para Web producer Houston Business Journal

Before the Houston Hispanic Impact Summit, Mayor Sylvester Turner sat onstage with Laura Murillo, president and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to discuss Houston’s recovery after Harvey.
He acknowledged that the Houston is bouncing back, confirmed that the city will help anyone regardless of their citizen status or language and urged business leaders and entrepreneurs to be a part of the economic engine that will get the city back on its feet.
At the Sept. 14 event at the Asia Sociey Texas Center, the mayor also explained why the Bayou City needs the temporary property tax hike he proposed earlier this week. Many of the points he made echoed his statements at a Houston City Council meeting on Sept. 13.
Although some financial help to cover Harvey’s cleanup expenses will come from the federal government, it won’t cover everything. And the city’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Funds cannot be used for city services. Instead, those donations are going toward organizations outside the government helping the city recover.
Turner also stated that Houston has already spent its $20 million rainy day fund, and so far, Gov. Greg Abbott isn't tapping into the state’s fund. Turner said that the city has nothing left to cut in its budget.
So to pay for Houston’s recovery after Harvey, Turner has suggested an emergency property tax increase, which is limited to one year.
“I recognize that there were a great many people who were impacted,” he said. “But I’ll never ask people to pay more than what we need.”
The city still needs to pick up the debris from the storm — and not just tree limbs. People are emptying out their homes of their waterlogged items and placing them in their front yards. The estimated cost for debris removal is $230 million, he said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency should pay 90 percent of that bill, so the city of Houston is expected to cover $23 million. And this cleanup needs to happen sooner rather than later: Once it rains, the job will become much harder, Turner said.
As published by the Houston Business Journal