Should Churches And Schools Be Forced To Pay The “Rain Tax”

The Houston Area Pastor Council is renewing calls to exempt churches and schools from Rebuild Houston.

Mayor Annise Parker has spent the last few weeks outlining plans for the so-called “Rain Tax.”

Beginning in July, property owners in Houston will be charged a monthly fee that will go into a designated fund for street and drainage repair.  Voters narrowly approved Proposition One last November. A plan to help reduce street flooding across the city.

Opponents of  Rebuild Houston plan to attend a public hearing this coming Wednesday to voice their concern about the program.

The group issued a news release Sunday Night: 

Diverse City Coalition Calls on Mayor to Exempt Churches and Schools From “Rain Tax”


 Houston, TX – Pastor Steve Riggle, Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church, Executive Committee member of Houston Area Pastor Council and a member of the Coalition For a Greater Houston is one of a diverse group of community leaders involved in opposing the implementation of Rebuild Houston.  Passed in November with a razor-slim margin of .9 percent as Proposition 1, a growing number of people believe there are major issues that require investigation.

 “The legal and ethical questions surrounding the development, funding and passage of Proposition 1 are ominous to say the least,” stated Pastor Riggle.  “The ballot language said nothing about a new tax on property they are calling a fee, nothing about the amount of the fee, nothing about placing a $125 million minimum with no cap and certainly nothing about taxing churches. We are calling on Mayor Annise Parker to drop her longstanding opposition to the exemption of churches and schools from the new drainage fee, or “Rain Tax” as we call it,” Riggle added.

 Proposition 1 was promoted as simply creating a designated fund for flood and drainage improvements, to be partially supported with revenues from a “drainage charge” that was not defined on the ballot.  “The $.032 per impervious square foot “fee” now being proposed by the Mayor is nothing more than a “tax by another name” and would give Houston the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of any major city in Texas that has a drainage fee, with the exception of Austin,” stated former Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector  Paul Bettencourt.

 “This oppressive new tax of tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars on already struggling churches, schools and businesses in a down economy is guaranteed to drive economic growth away and outside the city,” Bettencourt also stated.

Riggle concluded his statement by pointing out that as light has been shed on some clear conflicts of interest surrounding Proposition 1, the appearance of a scheme to deceive the voters becomes clear.  “The open connections between a city council member who is doing business with the city, the industry he is part of that funded Proposition 1 and the millions of dollars they will reap should raise red flags from city hall to the Secretary of State.  If special interests can use the election process as a direct business venture we have lost self-government.”

 Also announced were plans to call all constituencies of the coalition to attend the March 9, Rebuild Houston public hearing at city hall in force.  “We plan to make sure that the mayor and city council have no problem hearing the voice of the citizens,” Bettencourt concluded.

One Response

  1. This fee is a sham

    1. There has been no mention that this fee would supplement, not replace, current city street and drainage funding. Even when directly questioning a city councilman, a clear answer can not be obtained. What this means that if the city brings in $500 million per year with this fee, they can take what funds they currently spend on streets and drainage and use them for other pet projects.

    2. The term fee is a joke, it’s a tax and a tax increase wrapped in dishonesty.

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