Council Member Stephen Costello, the driving force behind Renew Houston, now known as Proposition 1 on the November ballot, teams up with a pair of co-authors to pen this op-ed in its favor.
Proposition 1 is a sensible solution that will fill the fiscal hole and get us back on solid ground. It changes our City Charter to create a dedicated fund – preventing the city from using street and drainage funds for any other purpose. It requires the city to pay for road and drainage projects on a pay-as-you-go basis, ending wasteful borrowing and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
Even better, Proposition 1 will fill our fiscal hole with jobs. The projects funded by Proposition 1 will create badly needed jobs now – when we need them most. With the city’s anticipated Hire Houston First program, most of those jobs should go to Houston families first. Proposition 1 projects will improve emergency response times by reducing the flooding and bad road conditions that keep first responders from arriving on the scene quickly. And new water retention ponds will not only prevent flooding, but also double as parks and green space and improve the quality of life for our families.
By requiring the city to convert to a pay-as-you-go program, we’ll save more than $2 billion in debt service over the next 20 years – money that will go directly into upgrading our streets and drainage systems. Developers will pay their fair share, to account for the impact of new development on our storm-water drainage systems. Commercial and residential property owners will pay a user fee based in part on their “impervious cover,” the amount of hard surface on their property – like buildings and driveways – that cannot absorb water.
Preliminary estimates put the average user fee at around $5 per month for a typical homeowner. Parker’s administration is working on the exact amount of the fee and the mayor has assured voters they will have a clear picture of how much they will be paying well before the vote.
A few thoughts:
– It’s my understanding that there are a couple of anti-Prop 1 PACs currently in existence. I don’t know anything about them. It’s possible they’ll eventually amount to nothing, but I wouldn’t count on it. Assuming they do fully engage, it would be nice if they would attempt to refute the arguments that Costello and other Prop 1 supporters are making instead of just screaming “Rain tax!” over and over again in the hope of scaring enough people to vote against it. Needless to say, I don’t expect that to be the case.
– As you know, I’ve wondered who the base supporters are of Prop 1. One of Costello’s co-authors for this piece is Dale Wortham, the president of the Harris County AFL-CIO Council. Having labor on board will go a long way towards solidifying Democratic support.
– I have not yet seen Mayor Parker really get involved on this. I’m sure she will, I’m just saying I haven’t seen it yet.
I’ll have an interview with CM Costello next week to discuss Prop 1. What are your thoughts about it?