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Parker wants a vote on lifting the revenue cap

So do I.

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker plans to press City Council this month to reconsider loosening a decade-old revenue cap for public safety spending as talk of a looming budget deficit and possible service cuts grows more ominous around the dais.

The cap limits the growth in city revenues to the combined rates of inflation and population growth. Last year, the city hit the cap for the first time, forcing a property tax rate trim and preventing $53 million from flowing to city coffers. Next fiscal year, the triple threat of soaring pensions costs, revenue cap limitations and debt payments will leave the city facing a $126 million deficit.

[…]

“I’m going to make them vote up or down,” Parker said of the revenue cap. “If they want to give a pay raise to firefighters without having to cut huge numbers of programs across the city they’re going to have to figure out that, you know, that’s one way to bring some relief in.”

Parker’s pledge followed a contentious eight-hour meeting Wednesday where City Council pushed to reinstate road and park projects that had been knocked off an $8.7 billion capital spending plan, in part because of the cap.

She would need to secure council approval in the next few weeks to qualify for the November ballot. The specifics of the revenue cap proposal, however, are still being hashed out.

You know how i feel about this, and I know how you feel about it, at for those of you that comment or email me, so let’s just skip the argument for now. Of interest is the tone in the article that suggests more members of Council are now open to the idea, thanks in part to the news about Moody’s going pessimistic on the city, in part because of the cap. There would have to be a significant shift for it to pass, given that Council has previously rejected the idea, and since you can pretty easily count seven No votes. For what it’s worth, in the short time I’ve been doing interviews so far, I’ve encountered more openness, or at least less resistance, to the idea than one might have expected. That would be a different Council under a different Mayor, however, so who knows what might happen. We’ll see what happens with this Council and this Mayor – I suspect a few arms would need to be twisted – and then we’d have to have a campaign, and you know how that will go. Stay tuned.

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2 Comments

  1. Steven Houston says:

    While I think the average person will complain about any such vote, especially with Council voting to continue their slush funds and the like, the only problem I have with the article is the ongoing narrative regarding “soaring pensions costs”. Much of the extra cost this time is simply the city paying back the money it borrowed a few years back ($25.5 million), the mayor extremely lucky that all three pensions had net returns in excess of 17% last year or there’d be an even bigger chunk of change needed (the police pension was written to require the city to keep it funded at a minimum of 80% as well as add $10 million each year until past debt is paid up). Adding 800+ employees to the city this year isn’t going to help either…

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    She should let us vote on the food charter.