Houston voters will not be given the option this fall of passing a property tax hike after a City Council committee on Thursday unanimously recommended leaving the city’s much-maligned revenue cap alone.
The topic has received less attention recently, however, as projections show the cap will mean a projected $24 million less is available to spend in the next budget compared to current one. That is significantly less than the $63 million deficit City Council must close by the new fiscal year July 1, and the even larger deficits projected in the following years.
City finance officials project the revenue cap will allow the city to collect $39 million more in property taxes for the upcoming budget year than it collected in the current one. However, they said, contractual costs – not including staff salaries or the delivery of services – will increase by $58 million, led by rising pension and debt payments.
Still, council members, led by C.O. Bradford, Oliver Pennington and Stephen Costello, said they cannot support asking the public to pay more when they cannot justify to voters all the ways the city spends money today. Only once the city’s budget problems push parks and libraries to close, Costello said, will voters consider a change.
So I guess we need to destroy the city – or at least the city’s budget – in order to save it. I’m sorry, but that’s not good leadership. What it sounds like is a rationalization by some Council members that didn’t want to put this to a vote, but didn’t want to admit that they didn’t want to put it to a vote, either. It’s also fiscally irresponsible, as Council’s hands will continue to be needlessly tied as it deals with the upcoming shortfalls. Funny, considering how much we’re going to be hearing about “fiscal responsibility” from the squadron of Mayoral candidates, that being willing to do what it takes to be able to pay all of our bills is so easily shunted aside. Sorry, but I’m not going to be letting this go anytime soon. The Chron editorial board has more.