New Mayor says city finances priority, HERO compromise not

- Sylvester Turner's first full council meeting as Mayor was both congenial and businesslike, but just beneath the surface a budget crisis is bubbling.

Of this, the City's new leader is acutely aware.

"It's important for me to ask everyone to be prepared to sacrifice for the greater good of the City," said Turner for the second time in three days.

It is a deficit made deeper by market forces beyond the Mayor's control - a collapse in oil prices with no correction expected in the immediate future.

City Controller Chris Brown says sales tax collections are down 3 percent.

"As long as oil prices stay below $40 we are going to have some challenges with sales tax revenue," said Brown.

Add the City's unfunded, multi-billion dollar pension liability and it's easy to grasp why the new mayor has rapidly developed tunnel vision.

"I want to make sure that we keep our emphasis and eye on the prize when it comes to the financial challenges that exist in this City," said Turner.

It is discipline that's pushed to the back burner high profile issues like brokering a compromise equal rights ordinance ahead of the Super Bowl.

The Mayor said today that's not currently on his table.

"I don't want us to get to the point that we become engaged in other things that would cause us to lose our focus," said Turner who has pledged a comprehensive plan to reform the City's finances.

Turner says since announcing his 24 hour pothole repair program Monday, citizen reports are up 200 percent.

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