Could this be more trouble for the City of Houston’s Proposition 1 – flooding and drainage issue – on November’s ballot?
The Harris County Republican Party is urging followers to vote no. This follows concern voiced by the Houston Independent School District last week and questions raised by at least for members of the Houston City Council.
Prop 1, if passed, would assess a monthly fee on private and business property owners.
The money would go into a dedicated fund to pay to fix some of Houston’s drainage and flooding problems.
Public schools and churches would not be exempt. HISD said last week that the fee would cost the school district $2.5 – $3 Million annually and could lead to the district laying off teachers and raising property taxes.
Below, I’ve posted the entire message from GOP Chair Jared Woodfill:
Vote No on Mayor Parker’s Rain Tax-Proposition 1
By: Jared Woodfill
Chairman, Harris County Republican Party
It appears that Mayor Parker and the City of Houston are at it again, attempting to pass the largest local tax increase in recent history-Proposition 1. This $8 billion referendum will be on the ballot in November.
Mayor Parker has decided to take a play from the Obama, Reid, Pelosi playbook, increase taxes in a recession. In a challenging economy, Mayor Parker and a majority of City Council passed an ordinance this year increasing residential water rates by 40% over the next three years. This resulted in Houston residents having one of the highest water and sewer rates in the country. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for our “big government” Mayor. In an attempt to take more of our money, Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot with a goal of collecting as much as $300 to $400 million dollars annually in drainage fees and property tax debt transfers from the City’s General Fund; all of this occurring in the country’s worst economic recession since WWII.
Advocates of Proposition 1 will argue that it isn’t a tax, it is merely a fee. The last time I checked, government charging individuals, churches and schools more money for a service they must have, i.e., water, is a tax. This “Rain Tax,” masquerading as a fee, will be levied on our churches and local schools. The Houston Independent School District board recently stated that the new tax could cost HISD $2.5 million to $3.5 million a year. HISD President Greg Meyers indicated that the “Rain Tax” could result in teachers being let go.
What is the ultimate cost? No one really knows. The open ended, vague Proposition 1 states it will actually charge a minimum of $125 million dollars in new drainage fees annually. The key word is “minimum.” In essence, Mayor Parker is asking taxpayers to give her a blank check, with no maximum rate. Proposition 1 also includes a provision that would make it difficult to remove, lasting two successive 20-year periods unless a super-majority (2/3rds) vote of City Council votes to cancel it.
You would think Mayor Parker would have learned from the missteps of former Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown who tried to pass a similar “Rain Tax” in 2003. Many of the same 40,000 Houston citizens who signed the “No Rain Tax” Petition in 2003 are part of the grass-roots army fighting to stop Proposition 1. It is clear that Mayor Parker doesn’t have her finger on the pulse of the community. The last thing we need is another tax. I encourage you to vote no on Proposition 1.