From Brenda Stardig: Proposed Budget Amendments

At the City Council Meeting last week, I presented 15 budget amendments. On Wednesday, June 18th, City Council will hear and vote on all proposed amendments. In order to keep you updated on my proposals, here is a summary of my amendments:

6.01 – To require all Houston operated public facilities (such as libraries and multi-service centers) to have and operate video conferencing technology. I have heard from my constituents that it can be difficult to drive downtown to appear before City Council to speak at Public Session meetings. This will allow you to speak to City Council without leaving the comfort of your own district.

6.02 – To establish a Neighborhood Matching Grant Program (NMGP). When neighborhoods go through the process to install traffic calming devices (speed bumps) in their community, the City only pays to install temporary devices that end up being left permanently. If neighborhoods want to upgrade, they have to raise the money themselves. The NMGP will match the money a neighborhood raises and will assist the neighborhoods to install the permanent devices.

6.03 – To add one full time employee to the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP), which is the program neighborhoods go through to receive speed bumps and other traffic calming devices. Currently the City only has two full time employees to oversee this program for the entire city. As such, neighborhoods have to wait at least four years to get speed cushions and other traffic calming devices. I know how important it is to keep our District A children safe from speeding cars, so I would like to hire another person for this program so that neighborhoods can expedite this process.

6.04 – To require the mayor to present details about all below fair-market leases or rentals of City owned property. This will also give us a clear idea about which properties we should consider selling so that we can have more money for necessary city services.

6.05 – To require all departments to adopt a zero-based budgeting method. Traditional budgeting is based on the assumption that the “baseline” is automatically approved. For example, if a department’s budget was $1 million last year, they automatically assume that they need $1 million next year plus whatever else they add. Zero-based budgeting starts from a “zero base,” and every function is analyzed for its needs and costs. Budgets are then built around what is needed for the upcoming period. So in this example, the department would start with $0 and would have to explain what they need from there. This will essentially require departments to justify their existence.

6.06 – To change the ordinance dealing with bidding on City contracts. This will score bidding companies higher in the bidding process if the company finished previous contracts with the City at a cost under the original contract amount. This will allow companies that are providing quality service and that are being good stewards of our tax dollars to continue doing business with the City and to allow other companies make more responsible choices. I filed this amendment because I am tired of companies trying to charge more money just because it is a government contract.

6.07 – To establish an online database of deed restrictions. A common problem my constituents contact my office about is confusion with their deed restrictions because they are not always easily accessible. This will allow you to find your deed restrictions online.

6.08 – To make minor changes to City Council employee insurance.

6.09 – To require a report of all board and commission positions that have been unfilled or not renewed for more than 6 months. The City of Houston is assisted by groups of citizens who are appointed to board and commission positions. I want to make sure all positions are filled to allow for more citizen input. If you are interested in applying to a board or commission, please click here.

6.10 – To change labels in the City Council Agenda to make council members more aware of large projects that have repercussions for all Houstonians.

6.11 – To require more details about all additional strings that were attached as a result of accepting federal and state grant money. While we pay a lot of federal and state taxes and should receive our fair share of services, I want to make sure that accepting this money has not come at an additional cost for us for years to come.

6.12 – To require more details about future grants the City of Houston may accept.

6.13 – To allocate funds for design purposes of Alabonson Park.

6.14 – To allocate funds for the Houston Parks and Recreation Department to take over and improve the Inwood Forest Golf Course Maintenance Shed. This shed has been in disarray and has become a gang hangout. If the Parks and Recreation Department takes over this shed, they can improve it and will be able to have easy access to maintain the parks in District A.

6.15 – To establish a volunteer bandit sign program to allow citizens to take a class to be authorized to enforce bandit sign ordinances.

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