September 16, 2003
The price of progress

Sure sucks to be a resident of Spring Valley, where the I-10 expansion will destroy its tax base in addition to uprooting a bunch of homes.

Land is finally being cleared for the long-awaited freeway-widening project, and a chunk of Spring Valley's homes and almost all of its businesses are about to be razed -- reducing the city's tax base at a time when aging streets and sewers badly need to be replaced.

To offset the loss, city officials are proposing a 6 percent property tax increase for fiscal year 2003-04, raising the rate on homes to 40.7 cents per $100 assessed value from 38.4 cents.


The freeway expansion will strip the city of at least 90 percent of its commercial property, valued at $15.3 million, said [City Manager Richard] Rockenbaugh.

This includes buildings occupied by two restaurants, Ciro's Cibi Italiani and The Great Charcoal Chicken Co., and another by 24-Hour Fitness. All three are in a shopping center at Old Katy and Campbell, and their disappearance will mean the loss not only of city property tax revenue but sales tax as well.

Although the exact amount of sales tax revenue is unknown, Rockenbaugh said city officials are budgeting for $250,000, down from $484,000 two years ago.

If the businesses are forced to move in the next three months, he said, sales tax revenues for the fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, could drop to $150,000 or less.

Spring Valley's tax rolls will dwindle further with the loss of 56 houses, mostly on Bunningham and Lariat, with a taxable value of $9.2 million.

Pretty harsh. Spring Valley has the misfortune of being on the wrong side of the tracks, an unusual situation for a wealthy enclave.

Other small cities along the Katy Freeway -- mostly on its south side -- will be largely unaffected by the expansion.

Transportation Department officials said they chose a northern expansion because the south side of the freeway is more heavily developed with both businesses and residences and because the north side included a broad swath of former railroad right of way.

Makes sense, insofar as any part of this unholy boondoggle makes sense. Still sucks to be Spring Valley, for whom this will be of little solace. If only there were a better way.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 16, 2003 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

I used to like the Charcoal Chicken Company. They actually had some of the best BBQ pork ribs (the way I had them growing up) within the city limits. Better get some quick!

Posted by: Matt on September 16, 2003 2:07 PM

Is it too late? I thought there were still lawsuits underway.

Not that my opinion matters, as was made clear to me Saturday.

Posted by: elizabeth on September 16, 2003 2:36 PM

There is definitely a lawsuit underway. It was filed by the Katy Corridor Coalition. You can learn more about it and offer your support by attending a town hall meeting on Thursday, Oct. 2, 7-9 pm, at Houston's First Baptist Church, 7401 Katy Freeway (at the Southwest Corner of 610 and I-10).

The attorney for the Katy Corridor Coalition, Jim Blackburn, will be presenting an update on the status of the lawsuit and answering questions. He will also be disclosing some new and rather alarming findings concerning the I-10 and Loop 610 projects which have significant ramifications to Memorial Park and adjacent residential areas.

Posted by: Polly on September 16, 2003 4:19 PM

I'm glad to see they are finally moving ahead with the widening. About the lost businesses, though, how is the taking calculated for future losses? Are governments compensated for the actions of other governments?

Posted by: B. K. Oxley (binkley) on September 16, 2003 6:02 PM