Councilmembers Chime in on City Spending

Houston councilmembers will vote on the city's budget next week. But first they have the opportunity to submit amendments to the administration's budget proposal. Laurie Johnson has more.

In years when money is flush, budget amendments pile up by the dozens. But this year, councilmembers kept their suggestions
to a minimum. The exception is Councilmember Mike Sullivan, who submitted 28 amendments. They include a five percent pay cut for the mayor and councilmembers, a 50 percent cut to advertising services, the elimination of funding for affirmative action monitoring and capping a number of ongoing expenses. All told, it would amount to nearly $36 million in cuts.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says she hasn't had a chance to review the amendments, but she cautions it's not that simple to trim millions more from the budget.

"We could cut a whole lot more out of the budget, there's no question. It is a matter of deciding that there's a service or program that we no longer need. There's not any efficiencies that you can squeeze out that'll get you there, there's not a way to do it without laying off a significant number of people."

Other councilmembers submitted amendments to save some of the community centers scheduled for closure. Several other amendments deal with procedural issues.

"It creates a good opportunity for dialogue. And as we work through the issues, explain them, discuss them, it's a healthy process."

The council will debate and vote on the amendments and overall $4 billion budget next Wednesday.

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...