Mayor Parker gave her first State of the City address today before the Greater Houston Partnership. Here are a few highlights from her address, which you can read as written here.
We don’t know everything that lies ahead. The pressures are immense. The economy and budget constraints may cause fees for some vital and essential services to rise…But I pledge that I will not present a 2011 budget that requires a property tax increase.
No promises for beyond that, you’ll note. Cutting can only get you so far, and at some point can be actively counterproductive. There are certain things we want, need, and expect from our city government – remember, over 60% of the budget goes to the police and fire departments – and they need to be paid for.
We are moving forward with building the next five lines of light rail, one of the largest public works projects undertaken in Houston in many years. While in Washington, I was able to sit side by side with Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood and commit personally to him that we are not going to drop a stitch in our effort to complete this project – that we are expecting to receive the $900 million committed in the president’s budget. The jobs created by this project will support Houston families and keep Houston moving.
I’m really glad to see Mayor Parker reaffirm this commitment to finishing this phase of the light rail system. There are obvious challenges to getting it done, but as long as there’s a commitment I believe we’ll find a way.
I have named a working group to draft changes to our Historic Preservation Ordinance that will add real protections to this vulnerable asset.
You hear that, Weingarten? I look forward to seeing more details on that.
I am working to form an IT SWAT team to review city technology services. Some of our local business leaders have already volunteered. But I also want to tap the expertise available at our universities. Our young people are far more advanced at technology than you or I. Why not use this knowledge and ease of operation to improve our IT services.
Anyway, those are the things that caught my eye. Read it all and see what you think.