A Come-from-Behind Victory for Houston’s Drainage Fund

A COME-FROM-BEHIND VICTORY FOR HOUSTON’S DRAINAGE FUND Surprise! A late flood of support turned the tide for the “Renew Houston” campaign. Proposition 1, the city charter amendment that sets up a separate pool of money for drainage improvements and establishes new taxpayer fees to pay for it, ended up passing by a very narrow margin: a little more than 7,000 votes. The amendment was supported heavily by engineering and construction firms. [Bay Area Citizen]

38 Comment

  • Isn’t the city already supposed to be building infrastructure with the current tax revenue? Why all of a sudden are we all going to drown if this doesn’t pass?

    Colour me unsurprised if this new source of the city’s income go straight to the “general fund”..

  • Bill: That is the whole point of this proposition. The money raised can only be used for drainage projects and cannot be diverted to any other use. The City is in desparate need of drainage infrastructure upgrades. Our bayous are at capacity and cannot withstand any additional runoff from new construction that increase impervious cover. That is not to say that prop 1 doesn’t have problems. City council needs to exempt churches and schools from the fee. They also need a mechanism for reducing or sunsetting the fee should the funds generated exceed the need for drainage improvements.

  • This will be one of the biggest frauds ever.

    Parker thinks anything she “wants”, she “gets”.

  • Why should churches be exempt? How are they different from any other business that has plumbing, drainage, run-off, etc….It is ridiculous enough that they are exempt from taxes especially when so may of the mega churches, 2nd Baptist, Lakewood, etc…consume so much property and use the same resources for police, fire, sewage as any other entity.

  • “City council needs to exempt churches and schools from the fee.”

    And so it begins…

    As JT suggests, why should any entity be exempt from a generally-applicable tax?

    I’m sure that calls for exempting the elderly from the flood tax will be heard shortly. And then calls for exempting those who have not improved their property for a specified period of years. And then calls for exempting those earning less than $X amount. All so that the flood tax becomes nothing more than a tax on those who are deemed to be “rich.”


    …and Parker jumped on board late. This is hardly “her” proposition. In fact, she waited until it was clear the prop had voter “legs”, then endorsed it.

    She deserves very little credit (a little) and no blame for this tax.

    We needed this fund.

  • The biggest scam ever.

    If the city can’t manage itself now then the answer is just tax some more billions out of the sheeple.

  • Don’t tax me (more) bro!

  • Fees, schmees. Call it what it is…a TAX. This money will be spent on things other than what it is “supposed” to be spent on it will make our heads explode. The COH will suck on this money like a tick.

  • Anyone else a little surprised that Houston voters fell for this?

  • Between Prop 1(construction firms) and Prop 3(law firms), Big Money wins again in Rick Perry’s(consulting firms) kingdom. Now on to 2012! It will be fun to watch the Coyote Killer take on the Mama Grizzly: who will be more outrageous? who will be more fear-inducing? who will clamor for spot checks on citizenship papers? who will make English the official language? who will claim to be geographically and politically further away from Washington? It’s going to be a knock-down, ho-down thrown-down!

  • Ugh, I don’t agree with exempting churches either, sorry superstition doesn’t exempt you from having to pay taxes.

  • Yale St: I’ll believe it when I see it if this tax goes directly to drainage issues..

    Wasn’t the state lotto also supposed to go directly to schools? How long did that last?

  • SL: Last time I checked the city is run by a bunch of D’s.. Not sure what the governor has to do with local prop issues..

  • NO EXEMPTIONS! My God is not short of money, so let them ALL pay up. The self righteous ministers full of crap and worthy of contributing a little bit back to society. After all it is our judicial system that has to spend our money to pursue the same pedophile priests that want an exemption.

  • It would have been great to have the church exemptions debate and a debate on the exact legal devices that will be used to absolutely ensure the fund will only be used on drainage improvements — BEFORE passing this vague tax.

    But because Houston voters have their heads up ther @$$e$, we are now stuck with an unspecific mandate for higher taxes – and City Council will hash out the details in their chambers, putting their best interests first (not the public’s). And yes, churches will end up being exempt – but voters will have no say in that process.

    The only good news is that we are now guaranteed that we will never have flooding ever again (at least that was the impression I got from the TV commercials).

  • Yes, Ann Richards promised us the lottery money would go into the school funds. We see how that went, don’t we?

    And since it did pass, I agree that NO ONE should be exempt, I still disagree with the whole notion that this TAX will work. It will be engineering firm(s) getting richer on the backs of mom and pop taxpayer. They, the engineers, will probably figure out a way to exempt themselves though.

    Parker *may* have officially gotten on board with prop 1 late in the game but don’t for one minute think that she was not in on the ground floor.

    I sincerely hope that she is a one term mayor. She has already done enough harm.

  • Mother f’er. Like I don’t have enough property tax to pay. Sorry renters, you’re gonna get another rent hike.

  • Yes Cody, it will trickle down. And the HISD super has already said they will probably have to lay off some teachers.

    Hope Ms. Mayor is happy about that.

    Now, what about all the empty lots in Houston that still have concrete foundations on them but technically don’t have a building to tax? Howz that gonna work?

  • Bill, youre right. Still, it feels like the monied interests won handily at the local level. I think the anti-Prop 1 forces got involved too late in the game.

  • Yes and that bull&$@/ about the superintendent having to lay off teachers: God forbid HISD could dump 1/4 of it’s bloated administration which contributes nothing to the scholastic achievement of the students. A scare tactic.

  • @SL

    What’s the matter with speaking English? This is America and English has always been adopted by immigrants until recently. I don’t care if someone moves here for a better life for their family but get with the program.

  • The Harris County/Houston results don’t pass my smell test. The red light cameras didn’t win because people thought of them as a “tax” but those same voters turned around wrote a blank check to City Hall? Bill White received only 50% of the vote? Something is fishy ’round here…

  • JR / Corey,

    Church’s aren’t granted exemption because the government is scared of God or some nonsense. Open your brains a smidge.
    Communities see church’s as overall beneficial to them because of the resources (money and time) that they donate back. The pool supply company in that strip center and the overpriced organic food market don’t operate food banks, homeless shelters, organize hundreds of charity drives, winter coat drives and donate millions of $$ back into the city. That’s why church’s get a tax break.
    To put it in a simple allegory; let say a church gets a $24k tax break and they use that savings to create a position for a volunteer coordinator (job creation bonus) who then organize 50,000 hrs a year worth of community service and outreach programs to do things the Tea Party doesn’t want taxes to pay for. The community would benefit much greater from those 50,000 of raw labor than they would the 24k in tax revenue. It’s all about ROI and has nothing to do with the gov’t bowing down to a cross (or the Kabah).
    Just think it through a bit next time before you inject nonsense into the conversation.

  • Cody, you might have to put your renters out on the street with the new $5 a month tax! Whoah nelly!

  • MMeads,
    There is no guarantee that a church will do anything you mentioned to offset a tax break.
    That’s not to say that churches do not do good things for the communities but acts of volunteerism and goodwill are hardly the sole domain of churches. If Macy’s has 1000 employees partcipate in an AIDSWALK or Chevron underwrites a Cancer Gala, why aren’t they getting a tax break for their giving back to the community? The point is that churches use resources–how much sewage and drainage does 2nd Baptist, for example, use and why should it be free? So perhaps you should go find your thinking cap and dust the spiderwebs from it and put it on.

  • I’m captain smiley over at that mega church on 59 makes a fine living, leveraging his brand of bs sloganeering, and b-minus level motivational speaker rhetoric. While I’m not an atheist, and raised Catholic (oof), the era of mega churches just reaks of teleevangelism, and just praying on the weak minded people who obviously have money to spare. I firmly believe god isn’t found in a church, and I’m rather dubious about their social contributions, ever been to a charity galas? I don’t think Lakewood, 2nd Baptist or six flags over a jesus in Klein (Champions forest Baptist) can hold a candle to organizations like the star of hope etc, and they don’t divide the public with their unfounded dogmatic ploys..

  • I met with one of the heads of a civil engineering firm who was behind this new tax. His pupils actually dilated when he referred to the “dedicated funds” that could “only be used for engineering projects.” This is clearly a way for these firms to get a guaranteed amount of business. Now watch the campaign donations from these firms come in.

  • Great, Let’s make Houston more business un-friendly by imposing ever increasing taxes….hummm I guess any major business relocating to the area will think twice due to these increasing tax costs

  • Simple: You put down concrete or other impervious material, you pay. OK with me, we were on an ‘island’ after Allison. Plus, we had to add additional drainage in the back after high density construction along the street behind us; no problem for 12 years,and then once the street had multiple homes, driveways, patios, garage pads and so on, our back yard turned into a wetland.

  • I would love to see a recount on prop 1 and prop 3. What ever happened to #2?

  • Prop. 1 was a city of Houston issue. So if you live in, say West U., you do not get hit with this fee?

  • Pyewacket2: since 1997, according to the Texas Lottery’s website, 27% of proceeds go to fund Texas Schools. Five percent goes to administration costs, five percent to retailer commissions, 62% to prize payouts and one percent (unclaimed prizes), starting this year, goes to veteran services. Prior to that, proceeds went into the General Revenue Fund.

    So I guess it worked out OK after all.

  • From Yale St:
    Bill: That is the whole point of this proposition. The money raised can only be used for drainage projects and cannot be diverted to any other use.
    Since the ordinance hasn’t been written making a statement such as this is strictly heresay.

  • Congratulations Houston you just voted in a new tax.
    From a previous poster….They also need a mechanism for reducing or sunsetting the fee should the funds generated exceed the need for drainage improvements.” Hahahahahaha… That will never happen.

  • I voted for this even though I’m usually anti-tax. I was for it because it’s not supposed to be used for anything other than street/drainage improvement. That’s something that I think the city should do more of. Stop giving us stupid parks, downtown malls and libraries and do what you’re supposed to.

  • @sugarpie

    Thank you for that info. However, my point was that the gubment (in that case the state) has lied to us in the past. Just like they most likely have now. Only it’s the city this time. It took the state 5 years to create a dedicated school fund for the lottery. And if I remember correctly, it was after some TV coverage exposing that the money was put into the general fund and was being used for various things besides schools.

    Seeing as how there is no real plan in place for this new “non tax”, no fees in stone and nothing to stop our mayor and council from going full steam ahead on this and really socking it to us now, who out there believes it will only be $5 a month??