Houston Council Sends $410 Million Bond Package To Voters

Houston councilmembers authorized a $410 million bond proposal for the November ballot. Voters will get to decide whether to grant that spending authority to the city.

Mayor Annise Parker unveiled the bond proposal to city council a few weeks ago, with the package calling for allocations to public safety, affordable housing, parks, libraries and general government improvements.

Three councilmembers voted against putting it on the ballot: Councilmembers Helena Brown, Oliver Pennington and Mike Sullivan.

This is Sullivan:

"The administration is, more or less, asking us to sign off on just giving them a blank check to spend as they wish, as long as the expenditures fall into one of the five categories. That's exactly what was done with the drainage fee and look how it has turned out: undefined, underfunded and we lost the public trust along the way."

Sullivan says he can't support a measure to take out an additionall $410 million in bonds, when the city doesn't have a plan in place to pay down its current debt.

But Houston Mayor Annise Parker says this is historically how the city pays for needed improvements. She likens it to getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

"We looked at what our debt capacity was and worked back from there. It does not address the majority of the needs — the capital needs across the city of Houston. It is what was affordable to the city of Houston."

Parker says the debt will not require a tax increase, unlike the bond proposals put forth by HISD and the Houston Community College System.

If voters approve the bond package, city council will then be enabled to authorize borrowing and spending the money on various capital improvement projects.

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...