How Houston plans to fund its ARPA shortfall
Mayor Sylvester Turner signaled support for increasing the city's revenue cap through a voter referendum in 2023 as federal dollars funneled to Houston for pandemic recovery start to dry up.
Catch up quick: Houston received $607.7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the majority of which went to replace lost revenue amid the pandemic.
- Most of the leftover funds went to public safety initiatives, including overtime for police amid a public outcry over crime in the Bayou City.
- The city spent nearly $7.8 million in ARPA funds in the second quarter of 2022 on extra patrols and millions more on other public safety measures.
- The city has until 2024 to expend the funds.
Driving the news: During yesterday's City Council meeting, council member Michael Kubosh asked Turner to consider a referendum to help keep the additional patrols on the books.
What they're saying: "I'm ready to do it," Turner responded. "I'm willing to do it."
- "These federal dollars are going to come to an end," Turner said. "The needs of the city, especially as it relates to public safety, will not be diminished."
Context: The city has a self-imposed revenue cap set by voters in 2004.
- The city utilizes a special formula combining inflation and any additional population to determine how much money it can accrue through property taxes year after year.
Yes, but: There are still plenty of questions unanswered, including how much the revenue cap would be raised by the referendum and whether other city services would benefit.
State of play: Yesterday, the city set its tax rate for 2023 at 53 cents per $100 of valuation — a 3.12% decrease from the previous year's rate.
- Despite a lower city tax rate, property owners might see an uptick in their bill due to rising property values.
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