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Houston, Texas

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Houston, Texas
Seal of Houston.jpg
General information
City website:http://www.houstontx.gov/
Annise Parker.jpg
Mayor:Annise Parker
Last mayoral election:2013
Next mayoral election:2015
Last city council election:2013
Next city council election:2015
City council seats:16
2014 FY Budget:$4,900,000,000
Composition data
Population:2,161,000
Gender:49.8% Female
Race:White 50.5%
White Not-Hispanic 25.6%
African American 23.7%
Asian 6.0%
Native American 0.7%
Pacific Islander 0.1%
Two or More 3.3%
Ethnicity:Hispanic 43.8%
Unemployment:6.2%
Median household income:$44,648
High school graduation rate:74.8%
College graduation rate:28.7%
Related Houston offices
Texas Congressional DelegationTexas State LegislatureTexas state executive offices
Houston is a city in Texas and the county seat of Harris County. Houston is the economic center of the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area Based on 2012 statistical data, Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States.[1]

Office of the Mayor

Annise Parker is the current Mayor of Houston. Parker served on the Houston City Council and as Houston City Controller.[2]

City Council

Houston's legislative body is the City Council, made up of 16 members from 11 council districts and five at-large members. The Council has the power to adopt or alter the annual budget, confirm the Mayor's appointments, award contracts, approve city expenditures over $50,000, appropriate or issue bonds, lease or dispose of real estate and levy assessments against property. The Council meets at 1:30 P.M. every Tuesday and 9:00 A.M. every Wednesday.[3]

A full list of City Council members can be found here.

Budget

The approved budget for fiscal year 2014 totals $4.9 billion, and includes a new public safety radio project, a separate fund for an independent crime lab, $2.5 million for infrastructure maintenance and $600,000 for additional financial controls and auditing. "I believe this budget proposal builds upon the progress of the last 3.5 years. We've cut waste, made city departments more efficient and balanced every budget without raising taxes. We have gone from necessary budget cutbacks and staff layoffs to sustainable economic growth," Parker said.[4]

The city's budget process operates by Fiscal Years running from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. Fiscal Years are named by the year in which they end, not when they begin. The budgeting process begins with city departments submitting their individual budgets to the Finance Department. The Finance Department then meets with the departments to discuss what items get incorporated to the Mayor's budget. After approval by the Mayor, the City Council reviews the budget and holds public hearings. Once accepted by the City Council, the budget is officially adopted.[5]

Contact information

Office of the City Secretary
900 Bagby, Public Level
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: 832-393-1100
Email: citysecretary@houstontx.gov

Office of the Mayor
901 Bagby
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: 713-837-0311
Email: mayor@houstontx.gov

Lobbying

See also: Texas Municipal League members list

Houston pays membership dues to the Texas Municipal League, a government sector lobbying association.

The City of Houston paid for $280,000 in federal lobbying in 2013. The city filed for four issues relating to Aviation, Airlines & Airports, three relating to Federal Budget & Appropriations, two relating to Law Enforcement & Crime and once each relating to Science & Technology, Transportation, Energy & Nuclear Power and Consumer Product Safety.[6]

The city has paid Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger $1.3 million over the past decade to lobby for the city's airport system. This is part of the total $4 million the city has spent on lobbying since 2000, according to a report by the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2010, the city decided to hire one lobbyist to represent both the airport system and city.[7]

Ballot measures

See also: Harris County, Texas ballot measures

The city of Houston is in Harris County. A list of ballot measures in Harris County is available here.

Initiative process

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Texas

Population as of the July, 2011 census update: 2,145,146.[8] Houston is a charter city. Signature requirement is 15% of the total vote cast at the Democratic Primary for the nomination of Mayor and Commissioners, next preceding the filing of said petition. File petitions with the city secretary. The council shall either pass such ordinance or resolution without alteration, or submit it to the popular vote at a special election, which must be held within 30 days after the date of the ordering thereof; provided, however, that if any other municipal election is to be held within 60 days after the filing of the petition said proposed ordinance or resolution shall be submitted without alteration to be voted upon at such election. (note: On 11/6/2012 Houston will vote on a charter amendment that could change/clarify the initiative process)

DocumentIcon.jpg Houston Charter, Art. VII(b)

Public pensions

See also: Texas public pensions

Website evaluation

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Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying N
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Public Records Y
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Local Taxes
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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Elected officials
    • The website for Houston Texas includes the names and contact information of all city council members.[9]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting information, including calendars, agendas and minutes are posted.[10]
    • Meeting information is archived to 2004.
  • Administration
    • Administrative officials are listed with their contact information.[11]
  • Budget
    • The current budget is published.[12]
    • Budgets are archived to 2004.
  • Audits
    • Audit reports are posted.[13]
    • Audits are archived to 2002.
  • Permits and zoning
    • Building permits are available. Houston does not have zoning.[14][15]
  • Contracts
    • Information on contracts is available.[16]
    • Open bids are posted.[17]
    • Awarded bids are posted.[18]
  • Public records
  • Taxes
    • Property tax rates are available.[20]

The bad

  • Lobbying
    • Information on taxpayer funded lobbying is not available.

External links

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References