Event Preview: City Issues Forum with Mayor Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner – Mayor of the City of Houston photographed at City Hall December 15, 2015. (photo by Richard Carson)

The West Houston Association will be hosting the City Issues Forum on April 20th with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who will be speaking on the vision and opportunities to make Houston a wonderful place to live. Mayor Turner will be sharing the progress on the Pension Reform Proposal and his plan to lift the Revenue Cap of 2004.

Mayor Turner proposed pension reform plan in 2016 with an expectation that it will pay off the city’s debt in 30 years. To achieve that, significant benefit plan changes are likely to occur across all three pension funds: The Houston Police Officers’ Pension System, the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System and the Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund. It called for cuts from employee pension funds totaling $2.5 billion. Those cuts will help in shoring up unfunded liability which is approximate $8 billion. On February 15th, Mayor Turner mentioned that the city’s pension bill is in the final stage and it is expected to be forwarded to Rep. Flynn on the House and Sen. Huffman on the Senate. However, if the lawmakers don’t pass the plan, Mayor Turner fears a loss of jobs at around 1,500 across all departments in 2018. Also, they’ll have to wait another two years until the 2019 Legislative Session when they can try again.

Furthermore, Mayor Turner is hoping to explore the alternative sources of revenue to reduce Houston’s tough budget climate. Thus, one of his visions is his commitment to lifting the revenue cap for limited purposes such as improving public safety or paying down municipal debt. In his first State of the City Address, Mayor Turner said, “The revenue cap works against creating one Houston with opportunity for all and the ability to address pressing needs like flooding, transportation and mobility, parks and added green space, affordable/workforce housing, and homelessness.” Mayor Turner believes that our tax base must grow to keep the City of Houston thriving by attracting new businesses and making necessary investments to keep businesses and their employees want to stay in Houston. Hence, changes to existing budget allocations should be made in a deliberative process considering all affected stakeholders.

Join us to hear more about his views on April 20th at Marriott-Westchase.

Please contact Auggie Campbell or Carmen Kumpula for registration and sponsorship opportunities.