|March 25, 2010|
|For weeks, local church leaders, school districts and some individual taxpayers have been complaining about Prop. 1, Rebuild Houston.Senator Dan Patrick of Houston had proposed legislation to exempt churches and school districts and some opponents filed a lawsuit to stop the plan from being implemented.Mayor Annise Parker announced Friday afternoon that she has heard the complaints and is making changes that will have to be approved by city council.
Mayor Parker Announces New Rebuild Houston Funding Plan with Exemptions and Assistance for Low Income
|Mayor Annise Parker today announced that she will ask City Council next week to approve a new Rebuild Houston funding plan that includes exemptions for churches and schools. In addition to the exemptions, the City will set aside half a million dollars that will be available to assist the disabled, senior citizens and low-income residents who cannot afford the drainage charge. “I presented the draft Rebuild Houston Ordinance on February 6, 2011,” said Mayor Parker. “It was exactly as I promised voters, with no exemptions and everyone paying their fair share. After 10 town hall meetings, two public hearings, and discussions with council members, I believe this new plan properly balances community needs. I promised Houston homeowners this would cost them about $5 a month. The calculations indicate we can keep that promise while still helping our cash-strapped schools and our churches, and providing assistance to those who can’t afford the fee.” Mayor Parker wanted to work this out here at home, not at the state capitol, and appreciates the patience of her colleagues in Austin, especially State Representative Harold Dutton. She calls this is an example of local control that accomplishes the goals she set at the beginning of this process.The city charter amendment approved by Houston voters last fall mandates the imposition of a new drainage fee to raise a minimum of $125 million annually for a dedicated, pay-as-you-go, street and drainage improvement program. Monies raised from the fee must be placed in a lock box and cannot be used for other city needs.
For efficiency and cost-savings, the city intends to bill property owners, when possible, by including the fee on city water bills. Billing is scheduled to begin in July.
Houston City Council will be briefed on details of the new fee, assistance plan and enforcement mechanism at a committee meeting at 2:30 p.m. Monday, March 28, 2011. City Council will be asked to vote on the plan Wednesday