The Costello Connection

September 26, 2012

As chair of the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Committee, I am working together with my colleagues to strengthen the city’s long-term financial picture. Last year, I served on the Long-Range Financial Management Task Force where for six months, members were presented with a comprehensive, in-depth look at the city’s current and projected finances. Houston faces significant budgetary challenges due to a wide array of factors including: contractual obligations for salary and pension costs; rising health care costs; increasing costs of city services; and an overall demand for more services coupled with expectation of lower taxation.

The task force came up with over 100 suggestions of ways the city can tackle its financial woes. Since the release of the task force report in February, this list has been narrowed to focus on the suggestions having the most impact to the city’s general fund budget. In coming months, the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Committee will be taking these suggestions on-we will be looking at service delivery models, pension sustainability, ways to cut health care costs, and improving efficiency.

The Costello Connection

Welcome

Council Member Stephen C. Costello

 

City Finances

As chair of the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Committee, I am working together with my colleagues to strengthen the city’s long-term financial picture.  Last year, I served on the 

Long-Range Financial Management Task Force where for six months, members were presented with a comprehensive, in-depth look at the city’s current and projected finances.  Houston faces significant budgetary challenges due to a wide array of factors including: contractual obligations for salary and pension costs; rising health care costs; increasing costs of city services; and an overall demand for more services coupled with expectation 

of lower taxation.  The task force came up with over 100 suggestions of ways the city can tackle its financial woes.  Since the release of the task force report in February, this list has been narrowed to focus on the suggestions having the most impact to the city’s general fund budget.  In coming months, the Budget & Fiscal Affairs Committee will be taking these suggestions on-we will be looking at service delivery models, pension sustainability, ways to cut health care costs, and improving efficiency. 

Pensions continue to dominate our future financial obligations. Forecasts indicate that in coming years, the cost of pensions could lead to severe cuts in city services.  It’s important that we continue current discussions and explore all of our options because the demands are steep and solutions limited. My office is committed to honoring the hard work of our city employees while balancing the day- to-day demands of providing our key city services.

As always, I welcome your input on these and other matters.  It is an honor to serve you on City Council.

Sincerely,

Stephen C. Costello

City Hall Briefings  

     

 

Heavy Trash Pick-Up Schedules Are Changing: Effective November 2012

Continuing its efforts to maximize cost savings, provide efficient service delivery and engage in proactive customer service, the Solid Waste Management Department has taken your feedback and is improving your heavy trash (tree waste/junk waste) collection service.

Effective November 1, 2012, the monthly heavy trash pickup date for your neighborhood will change. Tree waste and junk waste collection will still occur in alternating months, odd-numbered months for tree waste (January, March, May, July, September, November) and even-numbered months for junk waste (February, April, June, August, October, December). However, each neighborhood will have it’s own designated pick up day. Please note that collection day schedules for other Solid Waste services such as garbage, yard trimmings and recycling collection will not change.

The service date change is made to achieve the following:

  • Budget savings in fuel and maintenance
  • Less confusion with neighborhood collection schedules
  • A single service day for major community areas
  • Easier to read/interpret service maps for customers and 311 operators
  • Greater availability for department support for community-based beautification projects

You will receive reminders by mail from the Solid Waste Management Department about your neighborhood’s new pickup day. Remember, this change only affects your heavy trash service day.

To see the improved service maps with your new neighborhood schedule collection date, simply log onto the Solid Waste Management Department’s website here.

 

 

Around Houston   

  

Space Shuttle Endeavour Visits Houston

The Space Shuttle Endeavour flew to Ellington Field on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 for the final time. On its way from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to its final display place at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, the shuttle did a flyover of Houston, the San Jacinto Monument, and the Johnson Space Center.  Ellington Field was open to the public for viewing until 9:00 P.M.

Johnson Space Center, located just inside the Houston city limits, is still the headquarters to NASA’s manned space flight program. Mission Control, which oversees the International Space Station, will continue to operate there as well as Space Center Houston-NASA’s public gateway.

Space Shuttle Endeavour
Shuttle Endeavour flies over Houston

 

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Annual Stair Climb

On Sunday, September 9, 2012, Council Member Costello participated in the third annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Climb event: CF Climb – Saluting America’s Heroes. Council Member Costello joined Houston firefighters in climbing the stairs to the top of Williams Tower in full firefighter gear as a tribute to the fallen heroes of 9-11-2001. The event raises money for cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States.

CF Stair Climb
Council Member Costello with staff from the Mayor’s office.

Be(er) Responsibility Day

 

Friday, September 21, 2012, was Be(er) Responsibility Day-a day set aside to remind people to drink responsibly and to promote the use of designated drivers.  Council Member Costello is shown here presenting a proclamation to representatives from Anheuser-Busch and Silver Eagle Distributors to recognize them for the work they do to prevent underage drinking and drunk driving.

Be(er) Responsible
Council Member Costello presents proclamation at City Hall.

 

Noteworthy

Falls Prevention Day

This week, the first week of fall, is designated by the State of Texas as Falls Prevention Awareness Week.  Falls are a leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.  Nationally, $29.2 billion a year is spent annually on treating seniors for the effects of falls.  Many falls are preventable and that is why Council Member Costello has joined the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and the Harris County Area Agency on Aging to host an inaugural Falls Prevention Day event Thursday, September 27, 2012, at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center.  Please see details below and plan to attend!

Falls Prevention Day

  Falls Prevention Day

                                                 

Council Member Stephen Costello
900 Bagby, 1st Floor
Houston, Texas 77002