Houston mayor to seek temporary property tax increase

Sept 11 (Reuters) - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will seek city council approval for a 12-month property tax hike to help fund recovery from devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, a city spokesman said on Monday.

Alan Bernstein, the mayor's spokesman, said raising the tax rate to 63.87 cents per $100 of a property's assessed valuation from the current 58.64 cents would generate an additional $110 million to cover Houston's share of costs not covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or by the state of Texas.

The money would be allocated to replace damaged or destroyed city vehicles, debris removal and road and bridge repairs, he said.

Parts of Houston suffered severe wind and flood damage after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25.

In order to temporarily increase the tax, the Houston City Council would have to declare an emergency, according to Bernstein, who said the council is scheduled to vote Oct. 18 on the tax hike after three public hearings are held.

The property tax is Houston's biggest revenue source, estimated to generate $1.16 billion in fiscal 2018. As of the end of July, the city had $2.97 billion of general obligation bonds backed by property taxes outstanding.

Bernstein said Houston voters in November will still decide on issuing $1 billion of GO bonds to bolster funding for city worker pensions and nearly $500 million of GO bonds to fund public improvements. (Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)