Houston budget 'unbalanced' and 'unsustainable', says Greater Houston Partnership

The Greater Houston Partnership has issued a sobering assessment of the City of Houston's precarious financial condition.

The organization representing the business community labels the $400 million surplus reported by outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner as a "budgetary sleight of hand."

That's because the City has huge liabilities including an estimated $3 billion in deferred maintenance on roads, at least $500 million owed to firefighters in back pay, and additional obligations totaling $3 billion related to water infrastructure.

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The Partnership says with "one-time" Federal COVID relief funds soon to be exhausted, the City has few options to balance its "structurally unbalanced budget."

"With the ongoing structural deficits and all of the liabilities that are outstanding, we are in for a rude awakening in the next few years, and not just the taxpayers, but the next administration, the next council, everybody is going to be feeling it," said Charles Blain, Urban Reform founder, and FOX 26 Contributor after reviewing the GHP assessment.

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With City tax hikes limited by "caps" imposed by both local residents and the State legislature, the Partnership suggested the new mayor and council consider assessing new fees, consolidating departments, and privatizing some services to fill the impending revenue gap. 

"Houston, we have a problem: a chronic structural budget deficit," wrote GHP report author John Diamond of Rice University's Baker Institute.