Texas gives Houston $50 million for Hurricane Harvey costs

Texas gives Houston $50 million for Hurricane Harvey costs FILE PHOTO: A car dealership is covered by Hurricane Harvey floodwaters near Houston, Texas, U.S. on August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

(Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Friday gave $50 million to Houston to help cover costs related to Hurricane Harvey, a move the mayor said will allow the city to avoid a temporary property tax hike that was up for a city council vote in October.

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.

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.

Earlier this week, Abbott rejected Turner’s request for the state to immediately tap its $10 billion rainy day fund to aid its largest city.

On Friday, the governor said he had the flexibility to withdraw $50 million from a state disaster relief fund for Houston.

“This looked like the best solution at this point,” Abbott told reporters.

He added that once the state gets a handle on total hurricane expenses, the Texas legislature will consider tapping into the rainy day fund when its next regular session begins in January 2019 or sooner in a special session.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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