Gov. Abbott delivers $50 million in Harvey aid to Houston's mayor

Gov. Abbott delivers $50 million in Harvey aid to Houston's mayor

More than a month after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25, parts of the state continue to grapple with cleanup and rebuilding. More than 60 people have died in connection with the storm, which also inflicted a staggering amount of damage on local infrastructure.

"[Mayor Turner] and I speak frequently, and he let me know that the City of Houston has some urgent needs that need to be addressed, and part of it is debris and some other things".

Damages from Harvey in Houston amount to more than $100 million - the city's flood insurance limit. It will cost the city about $10 million for a new policy to cover damages from any future flooding.

Turner initially had announced plans to enact an 8.9 percent tax rate hike, noting that a voter-imposed cap on property tax collections allowed him to propose a one-year exemption in the event of a federally declared disaster. "The mayor seems to be using [the hurricane] as hostage to raise taxes".

Mayor Sylvester Turner, who accepted the money from the Republican governor at a city hall press conference, said he will pull his proposal for a one-year tax increase to cover the city's share of debris removal expenses and for insurance-related payments.

Asked why he seemed to reject Mayor Turner's request earlier in the week and then change his mind later, Abbott said he wanted to consider all of the options first before making a decision - then changed gears to discuss the role of Congress.

"We're grateful for the governor to come home anytime he wants", Robinson said.

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Abbott has said for weeks that Texas will eventually use the fund for Harvey's recovery.

To read this article in one of Houston's most-spoken languages, click on the button below. But many argue the governor has gone too far in his refusal to provide extra assistance to Houston after Harvey.

"Here's what he's essentially saying to Houston: 'DROP DEAD, '" the editorial read.

"The governor, a Houstonian himself, might think different were he to drive down residential streets still lined with debris that's rapidly becoming a health hazard", the editorial ran.

While the rainy day fund will eventually be tapped, Abbott said, that could wait until the next legislative session in 2019, when the picture of what exactly is needed will be clearer. That's what we'll do for cities and counties across the entire region.

Ultimately, Abbott said he would draw upon a disaster fund within the discretion of his office, producing the $50 million amount Turner had meant to collect from raising residents' property taxes.

On Friday, the governor said he had the flexibility to withdraw $50 million from a state disaster relief fund for Houston. TIRZ funds are restricted in their usage and bound to specific projects. "(Ted) Cruz and the Texas congressional delegation have been working on".

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