Houston . . . the fourth largest city in the United States is well known as a center for energy, medicine, international business and technology. It is also one of only four cities in the country with a resident theater, opera, ballet and symphony.
The seat of Harris County, Texas, Houston is located on the upper Gulf Coast approximately 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The city lies in three counties - Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery.
The Port of Houston, located 50 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, is the second largest in the nation and the seventh largest in the world in both foreign and total tonnage. Approximately 66 steamship lines offer regular service between the Port of Houston and more than 250 ports worldwide.
The Houston Airport System is the fourth largest airport system in the United States. Houston's central location in the United States makes it a distribution hub for domestic as well as international markets.
Houston is an extremely affordable place to live when compared to other cities of its size. According to the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, published by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association, Houston was ranked one of the least expensive large metro areas in which to maintain a midmanagement standard of living.
Houston is not only known as the energy capital of the world, but is also home to NASA Johnson Space Center, the Texas Medical Center which employs approximately 49,000 healthcare professionals and is an academic center of the Southwest with more than 237,000 students enrolled in local universities, colleges and institutions.
Houston's sunny climate and mild winters allow residents to enjoy recreational activities all year round. The normal maximum daily temperatures range from 66 degrees in the winter to 91 degrees in the summer. The normal minimum daily temperatures range from 44 degrees in the winter to 71 degrees in the summer.
Houston is governed by a mayor and 14 council members. The mayor, council and city controller are elected for two-year terms. Each county is divided into four precincts from each of which a commissioner serves a four-year term. A county judge is elected from the county at large.
Within the city of Houston there is a limited 8.25% sales tax (6.25% state, 1% city, 1% Metropolitan Transit Authority). Certain food and drug items are exempt. The state imposes a 6% hotel occupancy tax on sleeping accommodations. Texas cities may charge an additional 7%. Fuels used to operate motor vehicles are taxed at a rate of 15 cents per gallon.
Houston employs approximately 5,000 police officers and during the past couple of years the area has shown a decrease in crime statistics that surpasses national averages.