In a 16-1 vote, Houston City Council approved an ordinance during its Aug. 17 meeting that orders an election to be held Nov. 8 for Houstonians to vote on $478 million in public improvement bonds.

District G Council Member Mary Nan Huffman was the lone council member to vote against the item.

In voting for the item, at-large Council Member Michael Kubosh emphasized the council did not approve the bonds but instead approved their placement on November ballots for voters to either approve or reject.

“We’re voting for the citizens to make the decision,” Kubosh said.

According to the 2022 bond election memo from Will Jones, Houston's interim chief business officer and director of finance, projects under the propositions in the bond were identified in the 2023-27 capital improvement plans as “future bond elections” and cost escalations that were a result of the COVID-19-related inflation. The bond funds would also be used to pay for $194 million in already-planned projects that currently have no funding.

Since the bonds are for particular projects that rely on the “future bond elections,” not every council district will have a project funded through them. However, Mayor Sylvester Turner said projects in the other districts already have reliable funding.

“Let’s say you vote no; there are projects in the existing [capital improvement plan] for 2023 to 2027 that will not go forward because the bonding proceeds are not available,” Turner said.

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the original amount being considered for the bond election was $468 million. However, District A Council Member Amy Peck added an amendment for $10 million in Proposition B, which will allocate money to Agnes Moffitt Park, a park that she said is in drastic need of renovations.

The $10 million price tag comes from a master plan, she said. It would fund improvements to bring the park's pool up to health codes as well as the addition of a walking trail, more parking and a baseball field. The improvements would bring more people to an underutilized park, which would help deter an uptick in crime, Peck said.

“In order to tell my constituents, ‘Yeah, you should vote for this bond because we’re getting something out of it,’ I need something on that list,” Peck said. “At some point their tax dollars need to pay for city services.”

Voters will be asked to weigh in on seven separate propositions:

  • Proposition A, public safety: $270 million would be allocated for multiple renovations and replacement and maintenance projects for fire and police.

  • Proposition B, parks: $60 million would be allocated for improvements to swimming pools, park facilities, salaries and the Hermann Park conservancy.

  • Proposition C, animal care: BARC animal shelters and adoptions would receive $47 million, including for a BARC warehouse replacement and new facility.

  • Proposition D, public health: $33 million would be allocated for facilities that provide health-related services and salary recovery.

  • Proposition E, general permanent improvements: $29 million would be allocated for projects for city administrative buildings such as for City Hall structure repairs, exterior waterproofing, renovations to the water system and replacement of sanitary lines. Funding would also go toward renovations to the water system and the replacement of the sanitary lines at the City Hall annex.

  • Proposition F, libraries: $26 million would be allocated.

  • Proposition G, solid waste: An area that has repeatedly had complaints in the past would be given $6 million for facility projects such as roof replacements, environmental services, salary recovery, locker room upgrades, concrete and pavement repairs, facility conditions assessment and inflation-related contingency.

Included in the propositions is $274 million that could be used for 2028 and beyond. This would help future councils by increasing spending flexibility to avoid having to schedule future, smaller bonds, according to the memo.

Kubosh said during the meeting that voters can vote for each proposition item individually, picking and choosing which they would like to support. The propositions authorized by voters will be followed by ordinances to issue the bonds, which must be approved by the Council.

According to a press release from the city, the bonds will not increase property taxes.