HOUSTON, Texas – Bill Frazer will formally announce his campaign for Houston City Controller tonight at an event in West Houston. Before the announcement, Frazer sat down with Breitbart Texas for an exclusive interview in which he laid out the issues he sees facing the nation’s fourth largest city in regards to its financial situation. Frazer focused on the City’s excessive spending, debt, infrastructure problems and employee pensions.
“Houston is a can-do city that we all choose to call home,” Frazer said in a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas. “It is a model of what a great American city can be. We must have the courage to face the current financial difficulties head on. We can no longer push these issues down the road. I am not a career politician. I am a CPA with the qualifications and experience to put Houston on the road to fiscal health.”
In the video interview below, Frazer described what is different about running this year versus his first attempt in the 2013 election. He described the importance of voter turnout in critical elections like this race. He said there was a large under-vote in the Controller’s race.
Frazer said there have been some changes in the City’s financial condition since the 2013 election. “Things have changed,” he explained, “they’ve gotten a little bit worse. We still have the same pension issues we had before. That’s by far and away, the biggest issue. The pension system is about $2.2 billion dollars under-funded right now.”
On spending issues, Frazer said the City has spent about $3.5 billion more than it has taken in. “About $2.2 billion of that is from pensions.” Frazer said the Houston Firefighters have been the most reluctant to make any concessions to help correct the pension problems. He said his experience in contract negotiations should be helpful in making the firefighters feel confident about meaningful contract discussions. “I think there is a lot of mistrust there,” Frazer said about why the firefighters are holding back. “We need to elect some folks that are going to work to rebuild that trust and that will be key to solving the pension problem.”
On transportation and infrastructure issues, Frazer said “About three or four years ago, they [the City] passed this drainage fee. It was supposed to fund the ‘Dedicated Drainage and Street Repair Fund.’” He said about $40-50 million per year of those funds immediately went into general fund services that “had previously been paid for by the general fund.”
“The rest of that money has been very slow to be spent,” he explained. “It takes about seven and a half months after a pothole has been turned in before it gets fixed.” Frazer described how some of the temporary fixes being made to roadways actually end up costing the taxpayers more because the underlying problem that caused the pothole is not addressed.
In regards to taxes, Frazer explained that the issue of the City’s revenue cap is coming up. “There are several charter amendments that might be on the ballot this coming election,” he said. “One of them is to remove the revenue cap. I think it’s wrong for the City to take away the only safeguard that the taxpayers have on irresponsible spending and overspending.”
He said the proposed charter amendment would take that cap away and “give them a blank check.” He said increases in spending should be voted on by the taxpayers and we should not just give them an unlimited ability to increase spending.
Frazer served as Chief Financial Officer of CBRE Capital Markets. As a board member of GEMSA Loan Services, he helped form one of the nation’s largest commercial real estate loan management and advisory service companies. Bill is a past President of the Houston CPA Society and has served on the Board of Directors of the Texas Society of CPAs for the past 20 years.
He will formally announce his campaign during an event at Café Adobe located in the Marq*E Entertainment Center. The Center is located at 7625 Katy Freeway. It will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday night.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.