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Houston City Council approves Mayor Turner’s $6.2 billion budget aimed at helping the city’s sanitation problems, open trench maintenance policy

Houston, Texas (KTRK) – City of Houston $6.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2024 It was approved after hours of discussion in the City Council on Monday morning.

The final vote was 15-2, and Michael Kobush and Mike Knox were the only councilors to vote against the final budget for Mayor Sylvester Turner.

One of the amendments accepted Wednesday morning to the originally proposed budget led to cheers among a group watching the proceedings from the spectator area of ​​the council chambers.

The Northeast Collegiate Working Group has been fighting to improve sanitation in their area for years, and they said the amendment from Councilwoman Tarsha Jackson was a victory in their efforts.

What it did do was add $20 million to the city’s local drainage program, which means more resources for cleaning and maintaining trenches in the city of Houston.

SEE ALSO: Houston may have to make deep cuts if spending-versus-revenue issue isn’t resolved

It also dramatically changed the way the city operated as it related to open moats.

Its current policy places the responsibility on property owners to maintain their trenches. However, the city will now be responsible for its maintenance once a law is drafted and approved in the coming weeks.

The mayor said that 75% of neighborhoods with open moats are in communities of color.

“These homeowners are already overburdened,” Turner said of the current policy that requires owners to maintain their trenches. “If they don’t maintain it, it will affect the drainage and water flow.”

The Northeast Action collective cheered loudly when Jackson’s amendment was accepted.

“You see my voice cracking a little bit because I’m just excited,” said Doris Brown. “We made history, really.”

Turner has said repeatedly that the budget approved Wednesday was the best in his eight years as mayor.

He praised his administration for reducing the city’s debt, handling pensions and other post-employment benefits, giving raises to firefighters, and funding more cadet classes for the Houston Police Department.

He said he left the city’s finances in better shape than they found them when he took office in 2015.

Related: Houston’s mayor proposes $6.2 billion city budget, boosting wages and spending

No elected official was complementary to the city’s overall financial situation.

Chris Brown Control He wrote an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle That the city has repeatedly balanced its budget using one-off sources of funding such as land sales or federal COVID-19 relief dollars that will eventually run out.

He also writes that sales tax receipts are backed by stimulus dollars and will eventually diminish.

Brown said the city faces a “fiscal cliff” if expenses continue to exceed revenues.

“Not once in eight years has the Observer been right,” Turner said. “If you just want negative information, that’s fine. But I think the facts speak for themselves.”

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