A bill filed Monday in Austin would mandate that more than half of the folks running each of Houston’s often opaque but increasingly well-heeled tax increment reinvestment zones be elected for 2-year terms by nearby residents of the zones, as opposed to the current system of city council appointments. The bill, proposed by west Houston rep Dwayne Bohac, employs the same handy Houston-targeting filter trick as that other recently filed state bill calling for a vote on what Harris County wants to do to the Astrodome: the bill’s language pinpoints only cities with a population of more than 2 million (of which Texas has exactly 1). If the measure makes it through all the necessary committees and passes, elections for board members would need to be held in 2018.
The bill would increase the number of board members up to at least 11, and require that the elected members either live or own property within 2 miles of the TIRZ boundaries (or be employees of someone who does). It would also save a seat each for the state representative and senator with the biggest district overlap in the TIRZ (or an appointee of their choice), as well as one to be filled by the city. Bohac’s own District 138 includes areas near Memorial City Mall; some residents of that part of town sued the city last year over area flooding allegedly exacerbated by TIRZ 17 (initially created to boost area drainage projects). The same group — going by the name Residents Against Flooding — butted heads with the city over TIRZ boardmember appointments not long before that suit was filed.
- HB 4046 [Texas Legislature Online]
- Previously on Swamplot: The 82 Square Miles of TIRZs Sponging Up Some of That Revenue Cap Spillover; Lawsuit: No More Private Projects for TIRZ 17 Until All the Flooding Is Fixed; Popularizing TIRZwatching as a Houston Pastime
Map of Houston TIRZs: City of Houston GIS Open Data
… This will end well
Ruh roh shaggy.
A long difficult path for this bill to becoming a law – but I’d welcome it. Shine some sunlight on those roaches.
Uh no. For goodness sakes don’t State politicians have their greedy, power hungry fingers in enough things already. Their influence is not wanted or needed on these “boards”. Keep em out!
It’s Houston, there are cockaroaches everywhere
Good. I dislike the questionable make up of these TIRZ’s and their UNCHECKED authority. Shine the light on ’em…
Wait, so is this “small government” Republicans once again wanting to ensure that all representatives have the ability to be influenced and tainted by massive cash infusions for electioneering?
I mean, i know it’s obvious, but I went through public schooling so not the sharpest tool in the shed.
So, this bill will require a majority of board members in TIRZ’s across Houston to be elected. Hopefully, that would prevent local developers from stacking the boards and milking subsidies, and being allowed to do so as a reward for giving to the mayor’s multimillion dollar campaign war chest. Democracy sounds like a good disinfectant for corruption in this case – as long as we are all agreeing the current appointment system has led to corruption.
According to Dr. Sam Brody, an A&M expert in environmental studies who’s doing national research for FEMA on alleviating man-made urban flooding, the cause is development. The TIRZ 17 board has developers, and others tied to developers as members. They are the cause of our homes flooding that never flooded before. They elevate property with fill dirt and displace their storm water into our livings rooms. We need to get these people off the board. We need to get our neighborhood representives back who honestly represent us. As it stands now, the Mayor disregards our right to choose our own. Attend a few of TIRZ 17 board meetings to observe “lack of transparency” first Hand. People have flooded multiple times now because of the inequity of these TIRZ boards. The group, Residents Against a Flooding is a 9 year old 501(c)3 nonprofit that has a federal lawsuit against TIRZ 17 and the City of Houston. The flooding in this area is largely preventable. Go to http://www.ResidentsAgainstFlooding.org to read the lawsuit and for more information.
If you attend a TIRZ meeting at 8:00 AM on a Friday morning, you will realize the distrust and dissent
that the TIRZ has created in a once cohesive community. As the meeting convenes, you can hear the
roar of the cement truck in the background, covering every square foot of the TIRZ district with parking
garages and multistory apartments. And where is the detention for all this impervious surface? The storm
water run off is detained in the residential streets and private homes of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Just try signing up for the Public Comment period. Your two minutes disappear as the Chair detects an
speaker unsympathetic to the TIRZ and cuts the mike. Your questions are not answered, so you try again,
this time with an Open Records Request. Now you meet the TIRZ lawyers, plural, a sassy bunch, who can
look you in the face and say with impunity that the record does not exist. It was just a typo.
Here’s a novel idea: what if there was some kind of city-wide organization that had members elected by its residents. The organization could then decide on how to spend property tax money. This way, being a city-wide organization, all property tax money is doled out in a way negotiated by representatives of all taxpayers.
Oh wait, we already had something like that, called City Government. But we gave it up for TIRZs because reasons. Just ditch the TIRZs and let our elected representatives decide what happens to our tax dollars.
@tirzanadu. 2 words: revenue cap.
@joel lol What does that even mean?