Late last week,f Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner agreed to withdraw a proposed property tax hike after Texas Governor Greg Abbott agreed to give the city $50 million from the state’s “rainy day fund.”
Despite an initial rejection of Turner’s requests to the Governor to tap the specially-designated disaster relief resources, the pair appeared together at a news conference at Houston’s City Hall to address the situation.
Governor Abbott presented Mayor Turner with the check, stating the decision to release the funds marked a “common-sense case of helping a flooded town.”
“The city of Houston has some urgent needs they need to have addressed, and part of it is debris and some other things, and it totaled $50 million,” the Governor continued at the press conference. “And I said, ‘This is what the state of Texas is for and what we can do. We are here to help you and help you rebuild because we are one team together.’”
The mayor previously proposed an 8.9 percent property tax increase for a single year after his request was rejected.
According to his plan, data showed a tax increase could raise an estimated $113 million to cover the costs of debris cleanup and infrastructure repair – a fraction of the billions needed to cover the full repairs; however, Mayor Turner withdrew the proposal after receiving aid from both state and federal disaster relief agencies.
Abbot maintains his initial rejection of the funds was due to a lack of accounting for how much damage remained outstanding, unaccounted for financially.
The ultimate decision to provide the funds marks another milestone it what was quickly becoming a heated exchange between the state’s Republican governor and the Democratic mayor of the state’s biggest city.
Feuding started even before the rain or floodwaters receded, as Mayor Turner urged residents to shelter in place, against the word of Governor Abbott, who called for residents to consider evacuating the city.
Making the most of their time together during the address, the Mayor and Governor reportedly discussed a number of ideas to prevent future floods, including the construction of new reservoirs and an expansion of the bayou system.
“We can’t ask people to build in the same place unless we are taking the steps to mitigate the risk of flooding down the road,” Turner said in an interview.
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