(Reuters) – Texas will not immediately tap into its $10 billion budget reserve fund to help Houston pay for Hurricane Harvey recovery costs, the governor said on Tuesday.
In a letter to Governor Greg Abbott dated Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner requested the move, saying it would allow the city to avoid a temporary property tax increase to raise about $50 million for its share of debris removal costs and for insurance-related payments.
But Abbott said he and other state officials agree the appropriate time to take up the request is during the next legislative session, which does not start until January 2019.
“In times like these it’s important to have fiscal responsibility as opposed to financial panic,” the Republican governor told reporters.
He added that the mayor “has all the money that he needs” in terms of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursements and other city funds that could be used.
There was no immediate response from Turner’s office.
Parts of Houston suffered severe wind and flood damage after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25. It was the strongest hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years.
Higher FEMA reimbursements led Turner last week to slash his original one-year property tax hike proposal by more than half.
The city council was scheduled to vote on the tax increase next month.
Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis