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Pro-Prop 1 op-ed

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?

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3 Comments

  1. Robert Derr says:

    There are at least 3 anti Prop 1 organizations that will be making their presence felt shortly. I can’t imagine property owners voting for a this $10 BILLION ripoff conceived by Houston’s largest engineering companies. They won’t say exactly how much property owners will pay a year or where the money will be spent or who will be exempt. They just want voters to approve 30 years of funding and then they’ll let us know more after the fact. Who designed the current system that’s responsible for our flooding problems? Engineers! And we’re supposed to trust them to make things right now? No thanks!!!

  2. Don Hooper says:

    I would love the opportunity to debate the merits of Prop1 but since they have not identified any projects to be built, told us what the tax rate will be, or explained how they plan to retire any debt, its a little difficult. Anyone who supports this without knowing any of the above is asking the government to take your credit card and spend responsibly.

  3. Kuff, you did not do your usual very respected homework on this one. I’m going to convey key problems with Prop. 1 via bullet points:
    . You don’t do viable urban or strategic planning by putting out your budget and financing method before you present to voters your program and plan-cost justified.Cart before the horse.
    . The tax (yes this is a tax, just by another name) is unfair and unprogressive-same rate for your square footage in River Oaks and Sunnyside.
    . The “sell” on this claims it doesn’t impact flooding; in other forums Renew claims it does impact flooding. Most experts and studies on flooding in Houston have told us
    due to our sea level status or below, very little impact can be attained with mitigation strategies.
    . The city has exempted legions of development projects with their responsibility to provide drainage mitigation….example, Memorial City and 1,300 flooded post project.
    Now we’re going the homeowner to fund drainage.
    . The city does not require accepted environmentally sustainable technologies in its new approach of paying developers to deal with drainage-read the 50+ page Heights
    WalMart contract and you’ll find nothing there in. Yet we are taking hard earned
    taxpayer dollars and handing it to WalMart to do the city’s work on street/drainage “improvements”. Check it out.
    . The city’s stated policy is to turn “improved” residential streets and roads into “ponds” (their language, not mine), thus denying residents, their guests and babysitters street parking during unannounced major gullywasher rains.
    Net Net- the city is hosing us homeowners to enrich the dozens of engineering companies who are funding 99% of the Renew Charter Amendment campaign and turning my street into a pond. See my blog above.
    Solution-Plan before the budget and funding
    -A progressive, fair funding program
    -Retention ponds and channels, not dig up old streets, drainage pipe and
    pour more concrete, which precipitated the flooding problem to begin with.