Mayor Tries to Prevent City Furloughs

Houston's mayor plans to release her draft budget for the city in May. She's asked all city departments to make cuts of as much as three percent. Laurie Johnson has the update.

It has long been known the city faces a $100 million shortfall next fiscal year. But what remains unknown is exactly how Mayor Annise Parker plans to balance the budget.

The mayor will release her budget to city council on May 11th. Meanwhile, city departments are still working on closing the budget gap for 2010.

"There were approximately $15 million in spending reductions by implementing a hiring freeze and reductions in supplies, services and contracts that were baked into the 2010 budget. However, that was not enough to offset some of the declines in the economy."

Departments have been asked to cut another three percent for the upcoming year. The exceptions to the rule are police and fire, where they'll only have to cut 1.5 percent. The mayor says one thing her budget proposal does not call for is mandatory furloughs.

"We may be the last major city in America not to have a furlough and I'd kind of like to hold onto that."

Parker says she hasn't ruled out furloughs altogether. But she would prefer to eliminate a few positions as needed, rather than implement a policy that would affect all city employees.

The draft budget will go to council next month and go through a series of committees before being amended and finalized at the end of June.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...