Houston Mayor John Whitmire announced the details of his proposed fiscal year 2024-25 budget during a May 14 news conference.

The overview

Whitmire started off his address by promising all Houstonians that the budget will not raise taxes or reduce services.

Instead of raising revenue, Whitmire said he intends to close a $160 million budgetary gap by using the remaining funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

In 2022, the city received millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funds. In previous budgets, former Mayor Sylvester Turner used ARPA funds to close gaps, including $160 million in the 2023-24 budget.

Whitmire said he doesn’t believe the federal government intended for the funds to be used for one-time expenses, but will follow in the previous administrations footsteps to close the projected shortfall for FY 2024-25.

The details

Whitmire unveiled next year’s $6.7 billion budget will reflect the values that he campaigned on, which includes prioritizing public safety, infrastructure and city finances.

The proposed budget features a 7% increase from FY 2023-24, including additional costs from a firefighter settlement, and pay raises for municipal employees and public safety personnel.

Of the $3 billion in the general fund, 68% or $1.7 billion, is going toward public safety.

  • Houston police officers will receive a 3.5% raise in FY 2024-25.
  • Houston firefighters will receive a 10% raise as outlined in the settlement.
  • The budget also includes funding for 5 police cadet classes and 5 fire cadet classes.

Of the $6.7 billion in the total budget, 7% is also being used to increase the salaries of municipal workers.

More details

In March, Whitmire asked all city departments, except for fire and police, to find the most efficient way to cut their spending by 5%.

According to Finance Director Melissa Dubowksi, the results of that plans show $11.7 million in departmental savings, which came primarily from eliminating vacant positions.

  • The Planning and Development Department will see the largest budget cut at 27%.
  • Public Works will also see a double digit budget reduction at 13%.

Dubowksi said the goal is help the city spend taxpayer dollars more wisely while continuing to improve on service delivery.

Next steps

A series of budget workshops are scheduled across May 15-28.

Workshops will kick start May 15 at noon following Houston City Council with a Special Called Budget and Fiscal Affairs meeting, which will include a five-year forecast and budget overview.

FY 2024-25 starts July 1.