Residents of District E,
It's been a busy first quarter of 2017. The City of Houston Sustainable Pension Plan is on the minds of many and has passed through a significant hurdle being voted out of the Texas Senate State Affairs (Senate Bill 2190) committee by a vote of seven to one. On Monday, March 27th, Mayor Sylvester Turner testified in support of Texas House Bill 43 in front of the Texas House Committee on Pensions, as members of City Council sat in the audience for support.
What is important for us all to remember is that this problem did not sneak up on us; it began in 2001, during the days of the dot.com bubble. At that time, the City of Houston's Pension rate of returns were historically high, due to this global investment windfall. The City's three pensions: Police, Fire, and Municipal Employees were overfunded by roughly 1 million dollars, as the City of Houston paid too much into these plans.
In an attempt to counter this overpayment Mayor Lee P. Brown and City Council made changes to the pension plans. They eliminated the cap on maximum contributions the city could make and fundamentally changed the retirement calculations. Overtime pay was included in the new calculations and a Deferred Retirement Option Pay (DROP) was added which enabled Police and Fire employees the ability to retire, and continue to work while their retirement pay was invested in this DROP account, drawing a 3% annual cost of living adjustment for Municipal and Fire Employees as well as a 2.4% annual cost of living adjustment for Police Employees in addition to a guaranteed rate of return ranging from 7% to 10%.
The results of those changes to the plan were astronomical and resulted in the City of Houston's unfunded liability in 2004 jumping from ZERO to $2.2Billion. At that time the administration did not choose to act or address the unfunded liability. It continued to grow over 16 years bringing us to the present day where the current City of Houston's unfunded liability is $8.1Billion and is growing by $1M each day. We have reached a point of no return and doing nothing is no longer an option.
Currently, the City contributes 32% of payroll costs to the three pensions and is not funding the pensions fully, which means we are not meeting our current pension obligations and we are continuing to add to our unfunded liability. If the City were to fully fund all three pensions that would require the City to contribute 50% of ALL payroll costs to the three pensions, adding to an $800Million contribution on an annual basis.
The City's Sustainable Pension Plan that is before the Texas Legislature lowers the payroll contribution percentage significantly by issuing $1Billion of Pension Obligation Bonds (POB's) and represents an annual savings of $280M - $360M.
The State of Texas gave the City of Houston the authority to issue POB's several years ago, and the City issued POB's in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011. These instruments are issued to pay off only existing debt, in this case, a portion of the $8.1B in unfunded liability. We are simply trading Pension debt for Bond debt. Issuing POB's were instrumental in achieving a negotiated settlement with the three Pension Boards, as without the issuance of $1B in bonds, there would be no agreement.
According to the credit agency, Fitch Ratings, "POB use in conjunction with reforms to benefit and contribution practices increases the odds of strengthening funding positions and improving long-term sustainability (September 2016)." By issuing $1B in POB's, the City immediately receives an instant elimination of $2.5B in debt from our books. The Pensions immediately reduce the City's unfunded liability from $8.1B to $4.5B. This is debt we've owed since 2001, and is NOT a "bailout".
Mayor Turner committed to pension reform during his candidacy of 2015, and he has made it his number one priority. These reform objects are threefold. They must achieve cost avoidance and budget neutrality; they must reduce the unfunded liability; and they must achieve a solution that removes pension issues off the table. This Sustainable Pension reform plan achieves all three objectives and ensures City employees and taxpayers receive a pension plan that is fair, affordable and sustainable.
We have received many testimonials regarding the positive position this reform gives to the City of Houston.
"It's a new idea with great potential to solve a 15 year old problem in Houston. And, if the corridor" mechanism is airtight and works as intended, it could become a case study for cities all across the country."
Marc Watts, Chairman, Municipal Finance Task ForceGreater Houston Partnership
"The proposed agreements contain excellent framing language, explaining that the normal market fluctuations should be managed by the City, but the City and employees must share the burden of unusual economic events either good or bad. Other Cities and States should consider using this framing language."
Bill Fulton, Kinder Institute for Urban Studies at Rice University
"Provision, if strictly enforced, would help make the proposal 'one of the better reforms in the country...' '...(T)he good the about the plan is that cost is now capped, whereas before it wasn't. We're in a fundamentally different situation than we were before."
Josh McGee, Chairman of the Texas State Pension Review Board and Vice President of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation
This plan, while not the "perfect" plan, moves the City towards a workable plan and gets the City out of debt over time. The City of Houston has all documents relating to the City of Houston's Sustainable Pension Plan available online at
As always, it is a pleasure to serve you. Please let myself and my staff know if we can assist you in any way. We are available by contacting our council office at
or by calling (832) 393-3008.
2017 Flooding and Storm Surge Symposium
Council Member Martin invites District E residents to attend the 2017 Flooding and Storm Surge Symposium.
The event will take place on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Meeting Room 371ABDE. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the program at 6:00 p.m. Remarks by Mayor Sylvester Turner will be given at the beginning of the program.
Confirmed panelists for the event include Steve Costello, Chief Resiliency Officer, City of Houston; Russell A. Poppe, Executive Director, Harris County Flood Control District; Mary Anne Piacentini, Executive Director, Katy Prairie Conservancy; Bob Mitchell, President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership; Chris Sallese, Coastal Programs Coordinator, Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation; and Phil Bedient, Director, Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters.
For those unable to attend, the event will be live streamed by HTV2 as well as recorded by and aired online following the event.
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce's Peace Officers and Firefighters of the Year Luncheon
Staff from Council Member Martin's office had the honor of attending the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce's Peace Officers and Firefighters of the Year Luncheon on Tuesday, March 21 and presented certificates of special recognition to the men and women being honored at the event for their brave service to the Lake Houston Area. Each honoree was chosen by his or her local station for their outstanding dedication in their duties this past year.
Council Member Martin commends the 2017 Lake Houston Peace Officers and Firefighters of the Year as well all of the public safety and law enforcement professionals in the greater Houston area, for their selfless and courageous service.
Good Oil Days 2017
The City of Humble and the Humble Senior Activity Center will hold the 37th Annual Good Oil Days Festival on Saturday, April 8. This will be a fantastic event with Arts & Crafts, good food, plenty of fun, and the famous senior plant sale!
Proceeds will benefit the Humble Area Seniors. Booth Fees, Donations and In Kind Services are Tax Deductible.
Vendor booths will be located on five blocks of Main Street Humble. Good Food will be available throughout the festival in the cross-streets. The ever popular KIDS ZONE will be just for kids, where they will have their own games and activities. Mark your calendar and come and enjoy the festivities! For more information go to
Master Your Garden Event
Save the Date! On April 22
the Kingwood Garden Club will host the Master Your Garden Symposium at the Kingwood Community Center from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The event will feature a presentation by Jacob Martin, Greenhouse Manager of Mercer Botanical Gardens and Gundrun Opperman, Texas Master Gardener. The event will also feature a panel discussion with local experts as well as floral displays designed by the Kingwood Garden Club members. Tickets can be purchased from Alspaugh's Ace Hardware, Garden Club Members or at the door. Hurry, seating is limited!
Save the Date: Dancing with the Lake Houston Stars
On Thursday, April 27 the Lake Houston YMCA will
annual "Dancing with the Lake Houston Stars" event at the Humble Civic Center. The
evening will include dinner, a bid board and a silent auction. Money raised at the event will benefit the YMCA Annual Campaign as well as programs such as Miracle League Baseball, Go for Green and Livestrong. Council Member Martin congratulates those that have been selected as 2017 dancers!
Council Member Dave Martin and the City of Houston's Solid Waste Management Department are holding a Batteries, Oil, Paint (latex only) and Antifreeze (B.O.P.A.) and Electronic Recycling Collection event on April 29. The event will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Kingwood METRO Park and Ride located at 3210 W. Lake Houston Parkway.
The event will be free and open to all City of Houston residents. A valid Texas driver's license or other proof of residency will be required. Business waste will not be accepted.
In addition to the B.O.P.A, residents may drop off scrap metal and large appliances. Large appliances include stoves, refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners.
Many common household materials are considered hazardous and need special disposal. When Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) is disposed of in the trash, it can contaminate landfills and subsequently our groundwater. This event provides a free and safe alternative for residents to rid their homes of potentially dangerous materials. Below is a list of acceptable and non-acceptable items for the November 7th collection event:
- ACCEPTED ITEMS: only residential waste, rechargeable household and automobile batteries, motor oil and filters, LATEX paint, antifreeze, large appliances and scrap metal. Used motor oil will be limited to 15 gallons. All liquids are required to be in sealed, non-leaking containers that are labeled as to contents.
- ITEMS NOT ACCEPTED: business, medical and agricultural waste; oil-based paints, solvents, flammables, pesticides, herbicides and other similar hazardous materials and electronic waste.
Residents may call 3-1-1, the City of Houston's Customer Service Hotline for additional information or check online at www.houstonsolidwaste.org.
The Solid Waste Management Department provides solid waste service to the citizens of Houston through the collection, disposal and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective.
Space Day 2017 at the Capitol
Early in March, Council Member Martin and staff had the chance to travel to Austin with Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP) and NASA Johnson Space Day delegation to advocate for the funding of spaceports and space programs that will benefit students and small businesses around both District E and throughout the state. The council member was honored to stand along NASA's Johnson Space Center Director and former Astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa, NASA JSC External Relations Office Director Mike Kincaid, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell and Astronaut Rex Walheim as they were presented with resolutions, in both the House and the Senate, by Representative Dennis Paul and Senator Larry Taylor at the Texas State Capitol.
In between resolutions, the team met with Representative Jarvis Johnson, staff from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick's office, staff from Speaker of the House, Joe Straus' office, and with Chairman Trent Ashby, Chair of the House of Representatives Appropriation Subcommittee that oversees all higher and public education funding in Texas.
The day ended with an Ice Cream and Astronauts program, a big hit every year. Ice Cream and Astronauts gives legislatures and their staff a chance to chat with our teams, enjoy some Amy's Ice Cream and visit with real life astronauts. It was a great couple of days at the Texas State Capitol and Council Member Martin was happy to attend on District E's behalf.
Meadowcreek Pavilion Ribbon Cutting
On Thursday, March 9 Council Member Martin along with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) hosted the Meadowcreek Village Pavilion Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Local Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops were there to present the colors and read a poem in honor of the new pavilion at their local park.
Since 2014, Council Member Martin has been working with HPARD and the Meadowcreek Village Civic Club regarding the design and construction of the new Meadowcreek Village Pavilion. In addition to the new pavilion, the council member teamed up with HPARD and the Playground Safety Team to upgrade the existing playground equipment at Meadowcreek Village Park. This work was completed Friday, March 24.
Council Member Martin is excited to welcome the community members to the new pavilion and encourage residents to get outside and stay active.
Road to 2020 Census
On Thursday March 9 staff from Council Member Martin's office attended the Road to 2020 Census event at Houston-Galveston Area Council.
City of Houston Department of Neighborhoods Director TaKasha Francis kicked off the Road to 2020 Census with some encouraging words. Representatives from the City of Houston, Harris County and other organizations came together to discuss the new implementations that will be seen in this coming 2020 Census.
In 2016, the Census Bureau refined a variety of new methods and advanced technologies that are under consideration for the 2020 Census. The primary focus of the test was to refine the methodology for following up with households that do not self-respond to the census. As 2020 operations move forward, the Census Bureau will continue to improve the use of mobile technology, administrative records, innovations from the geospatial industry and self-response via the internet that will support the 2020 Census.
Census Day will be April 1, 2020.
San Jacinto College Receives Aspen Award
San Jacinto College has added another recognition to its resume, 2017 Aspen Institute Rising Star Award winner. On Tuesday, March 14, the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence named San Jacinto College as a 2017 Rising Star recipient, placing among the top 5 in the nation of more than 1,100 community colleges.
The Aspen Award for Community College Excellence is presented every two years and is the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America's community colleges. From the more than 1,100 community colleges nationwide, San Jacinto College was first selected among the top 150 last Fall. A selection committee then narrowed down those institutions to the top 10 based on student academic achievement, degree and college completion, job placement, and minority and low-income student accomplishment.
Congratulations San Jacinto College on this wonderful achievement!
Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership General Membership Luncheon
On Monday, March 20, staff from Council Member Martin's office attended the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP) State of the Economy Luncheon at the South Shore Harbour Resort hosted by BAHEP's Small Business Committee. The program featured Stewart Title Chief Economist, Dr. Ted Jones discussing his predictions and Outlook for Real Estate and the Economy this coming year. BAHEP events are always a great opportunity to learn about local business and its impact in our District E area, as well as network with local business owners and elected officials.
President Trump Signs S.442
On March 21 President Donald Trump signed the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 into law in the Oval Office. The Senate and House had collaborated on the documents for months and succeeded. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is authorized to receive $19.5 billion in fiscal 2017 under this bill, S.442. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation reaffirms Congress' commitment to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and directs NASA to pursue a balanced portfolio of activities.
Bay Oaks HOA Meeting
On March 23 Council Member Martin had the opportunity to speak at the Bay Oaks Home Owners Association's Annual Meeting. The council member was happy to engage in a community conversation and provide updates on what is happening downtown at City Hall as well as in the Clear Lake community. Council Member Martin updated the attendees on projects and improvements in their area such as Sylvan Rodriguez Park and the future widening of El Dorado Boulevard.
Council Member Martin thanks the Bay Oaks HOA for inviting him to speak with everyone at the meeting.
Clear Lake B.O.P.A.
On Saturday, March 25 Council Member Martin and the Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) hosted the Clear Lake Batteries, Oil, Paint and Anti-Freeze (B.O.P.A.) and Electronic Recycling Collection Event at the Ellington Airport Recycling Center. Approximately 7,000
pounds of recyclable materials were collected from residents over the course of the event. Volunteers from the Clear Lake area aided in the effort, which ended up yielding 301
pounds of batteries, 385 p
ounds of used motor oil, 5,669
pounds of latex paint, 145 p
ounds of antifreeze and 550
pounds of scrap metal.
Council Member Martin thanks the Solid Waste Management Department for coordinating the successful event and all the hard-working student volunteers who helped collect the recyclable materials.
On March 29 Council Member Martin and staff were in attendance for the Transportation Advocacy Group (TAG) and BayTran sponsored luncheon featuring "The Women of Transportation": Janiece Longoria, Chairman, Port Houston, Brenda Mainwaring, VP Public Affairs - Southern Region, Union Pacific Railroad, and Carrin Patman, Chair, METRO.
It's always a fascinating conversation on transportation at TAG Luncheons and Council Member Martin thanks TAG and BayTran for putting an event together highlighting this great group of female leaders in our city.
Party for the Planet
The Armand Bayou Nature Center's Board of Trustees is hosting a Party for the Planet on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. Senator Larry Taylor will be the honorary guest. Event Co-Chairs Robbie Lowe and Michele Hundley are planning an event to remember. Guests will enjoy a catered dinner, live music by Andy and the Dreamsicles, dancing, charitable auctions and games.
Event and table sponsorship opportunities are available at $7,500, $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000. Tickets are available for $175. Armand Bayou Nature Center is a charitable organization and depends on corporate and private donations for the majority of its funding towards sustaining the nature center for generations to come.
Armand Bayou Nature Center stands out as one of the largest urban wilderness preserves in the United States, providing the community with exceptional educational, recreational, and health benefits of nearby nature. ABNC is planning for the future to ensure ecosystem preservation and to educate our community about preservation and the benefits of nature.
Sponsorship, tables, and tickets are available at
Rodeo Wrap Up
The numbers are in! The 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) attracted more than 2.6 million visitors in the span of its 20 days. The HLSR kicked off during the first weekend in March with the
World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, which entertained 226,369 people.
Entertainer merchandise reached more than $4 million during this year's HLSR run.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports education and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Rodeo has committed more than $430 million to the youth of Texas. For more information, visit www.rodeohouston.com. The 2018 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is scheduled for February 27 - March 18
, with Garth Brooks opening and closing 2018 RodeoHouston.
Armed Forces Appreciation Day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Council Member Martin was honored to show support for our troops during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's (HSLR) Armed Forces Appreciation Day on Wednesday, March 8. The day's events, which recognized the brave men and women who are currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. military as well as their families, featured a welcoming ceremony with remarks from a number of Rodeo officials. Following the welcoming ceremony, a number of new military recruits were formally inducted into the Armed Services by publicly taking the military oath of office. Council Member Martin thanks these brave young men and women for their commitment to serve and will pray for them and their families during their service to our country.
Council Approves Houston Bike Plan
On Wednesday, March 22 Houston City Council approved the
Houston Bike Plan in a 12-4 vote. The plan's vision is to transform Houston into a safer, more accessible, gold level bicycle-friendly city by 2027.
The Houston Bike Plan vision is supported by four goals:
Improved Development and Maintenance of Facilities
. The plan provides recommendations on the general location and types of bicycle facilities, projects, policies and programs that support these goals and vision. The plan does not commit any city resources or funding.
The Houston Bike Plan was developed through extensive public and private partnerships and is the product of substantial public engagement. Multiple city departments, including Planning & Development (P&D), Public Works & Engineering and Parks & Recreation, participated in the planning. Funding partners include BikeHouston, Houston Parks Board, Houston-Galveston Area Council, TxDOT, Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration. The project was guided by a 25-member advisory committee. The general public contributed to the plan through numerous ways, including bike rides, public meetings, neighborhood outreach, online forums, interactive maps and surveys. Public feedback on the plan is overwhelmingly supportive. Since publishing the draft on its website, P&D received over 750 letters of support from individuals and organizations.
The last time the city adopted a comprehensive bicycle plan was in 1993. This plan recognizes that the city and region have changed significantly in the 24 years since and provides recommendations for programmed projects, short term opportunities and key connections to add over 600 miles to the current 270 mile high-comfort bikeway network. That is over triple the existing mileage and will put over 80 percent of people and jobs within half a mile of a comfort bikeway.
Along with adoption of the bike plan, City Council also adopted amendments to Chapter 33 of the Code of Ordinances, which establishes a Bicycle Advisory Committee and a biennial public engagement process, including review by the Houston Planning Commission, to update the plan.
Adoption of the bike plan fulfills a key component of the city's Complete Streets Executive Order (E.O.) 1-15, a policy that guides the planning and construction of public right-of-ways to accommodate users of all ages and abilities. The Houston Complete Streets and Transportation Plan (HCSTP)
Annual Report, required by the E.O., provides the mayor with an update on implementation of the HCSTP and lays out next steps for the upcoming year and beyond.
Director Turner Retirement Celebration
On Friday, March 24 Council Member Martin joined his colleagues and Mayor Turner at Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) Director Joe Turner's retirement celebration. Director Turner, who was appointed and approved by City Council as the Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department in 2004, has served three mayors and has worked tirelessly to preserve and promote the beauty and function of Houston's parks.
Council Member Martin has enjoyed working with Director Turner during his time in office and congratulates him on his well-deserved retirement.
Ford Driving Skills for Life Program
Houston is getting a special, free teen driver safety event, taking place soon at NRG Stadium. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens.
Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL) was established in 2003 by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and a panel of safety experts to teach newly licensed teens the necessary skills for safe driving and the importance of making good decisions behind the wheel beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs.
On April 22 & 23, in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Section, the Driving Skills for Life program will be at NRG Stadium.
The free training program is conducted with professional drivers on a closed course, and will focus on equipping teens with new skills in key areas that they tend to lack: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space and speed management, and distracted and impaired driving. The program will use Ford's special "drugged" and "drunk" driving suits to stress the dangers of driving while impaired. We encourage both teens and parents to engage in the instruction together.
The event sessions will be hosted at NRG Stadium on April 22 & 23, with a morning (7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) and afternoon (1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) session on each day.
National Drug Take Back Day
Save the date! National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will take place this year on Saturday, April 29. This national event aims to provide a safe and convenient means of disposing of prescription drugs while also educating the public on the potential for the abuse of prescription medications. From 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., sites will be available throughout the City of Houston for residents to drop off unused or expired drugs for safe disposal by law enforcement personnel.
In Kingwood, residents can drop off medication at the Kingwood METRO Park & Ride, located at 3210 West Lake Houston Parkway. Residents in the Clear Lake area can take medication for disposal to the Houston Police Department's Clear Lake Substation located at 2855 Bay Area Boulevard.
For more information on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, please click
Information on additional drop-off sites will be posted online at the linked webpage during the month of April.
Please refer to Council Martin's District E website for location, time and more event details. Email the District E office if you would like us to include your upcoming event in future newsletters!
Storm Surge Symposium
GHP State of the State
Drug Take Back Day
Kingwood Electronic Waste Recycling
Village Learning Center Charity Golf Tournament
Kingwood Service Association's Parks Committee Meeting
Kingwood Service Assocation's Public Safety Committee
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce's Education Outlook Luncheon
Kingwood Super Neighborhood Council Meeting
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce's Chamber Golf Classic
Dancing with the Lake Houston Stars
Kingwood B.O.P.A. Recycling Event
Drug Take Back Day
Humble Rotary Crawfish Cars and Community Festival
Southeast Houston/Clear Lake
Clear Lake Electronic Waste Recycling
Clear Lake PIP
Economic Alliance Board and Membership Meeting
Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's Government Affairs Luncheon
Drug Take Back Day