Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says state dollars from the Texas “rainy day” fund are needed for the Bayou City to recover post-Harvey.
Turner formally requested Gov. Greg Abbot grant the funds, which would allow the city to abandon a push for a temporary tax hike. Houston needs money to rebuild, but where that money comes from weighs heavily on the city’s disaster-stricken residents.
Turner made his request in a letter sent Monday.
In his letter, Turner explained the recovery costs still linger in the city’s future, including $25 million for debris removal, $10 million for a flood insurance policy, and $15 million to meet the deductible of the insurance policy covering municipal buildings.
The total cost is projected to exceed $250 million.
Houston already tapped into its own $20 million reserve to cover costs, but the remaining deficit will require either increased taxes or an infusion of funds from an outside source.
While he spoke about the steep road to recovery the city faces, Turner told the Texas Tribune some flooded homes could have been spared from Harvey’s wrath if the federal government provided funding for past flood control projects, which the city was unable to complete without funding.
Additionally, Turner criticized what he called an insufficient warning to residents who live near the reservoirs. He says the residents would have benefited from better information from the Army Corps of Engineers.
As he struggles to get funding for the city, Turner explained to the Texas Tribune getting citizens funds to rebuild is also on the forefront of the city’s efforts, saying he believes the process is taking too long due to bureaucratic red tape.
“We need to get those housing dollars to them, like, yesterday,” Turner stated.
The Texas “rainy day” fund is expected to reach $10.3 billion by the end of fiscal year 2017, which comes to a close Sept. 30, 2017.
If the temporary tax increase passes, it would bring in an additional $50 million for the city, costing the average homeowner $48.