Houston Mayor John Whitmire hinted during a July 2 Houston City Council meeting at possibly issuing a bond to secure funding for drainage and sidewalk projects in the city.

The full story

Whitmire's comments came as Council members were discussing amendments to the fiscal year 2025-29 Capital Improvement Plan. The city could need to issue a bond for projects not currently listed in the CIP, he said at the meeting.

“I would anticipate in the near future we attempt to do a large bond issue for drainage, infrastructure, sidewalks and lighting,” Whitmire said. “It’s not a pretty picture when you travel across the city. We just don’t have the money.”

Whitmire’s comment came after Vice Mayor Pro Tem Amy Peck suggested an amendment to allocate $35 million to the Spring Shadows Paving and Drainage Project. The project, which has been in the works since 2018, includes site work for a water and sewer, sidewalk paving, and design and construction of storm drainage improvements.

Whitmire said he felt that it is not the best time to spend $35 million on the project without knowing the previous efforts on it. Peck disagreed.

“I think now is the time to allocate this money,” she said. “We are talking about the CIP. We have the money available.”

Peck said the CIP shows that $35 million is leftover in the drainage account. However, Finance Director Melissa Dubowski said all the funding in the drainage account is already committed to other projects.

Peck ultimately withdrew her amendment with a commitment from Whitmire to find the funding elsewhere to finish the Spring Shadows project.

Other amendments on drainage projects were also rejected due to a lack of funding.

  • $15 million for design and construction of storm drainage improvements for Wellington Place
  • $35-$50 million to address drainage deficiency in the Westwood community

However, one amendment was approved by the administration, which included removing $6.62 million from the Antoine Drive Paving and Drainage Project and transferring it to the Tanner Road Paving and Drainage Project.

“Each and every one of y’all’s districts I represent,” Whitmire said. “I want these [drainage projects] to be done timely and transparent, but I have to express to the public how short on funding we are.”

Also of note

Two other amendments to the CIP were approved at the meeting:

  • Moving up $3 million worth of repairs to the Shepard-Acres Homes Neighborhood Library from 2029 to 2025.
  • Increasing funding from $1.68 million to $3.6 million for the purchase of 10 ambulances in FY 2024-25 for the Houston Fire Department.

The CIP was unanimously approved by Council July 2.