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More drainage fee details

Things are moving right along on the implementation of Renew Rebuild Houston.

Senior Parker administration officials Wednesday revealed the remaining elements of the plan, which would charge an owner of an average-sized Houston home between $5 and $5.31 monthly, depending on whether council decides to exempt churches, schools and other local governmental entities, such as Harris County.

The city is expected to begin the process of implementing the fee this Sunday, when it will publish a draft ordinance and proposed rates for the fee and hold public hearings on the measure in March. City Council is expected to pass the ordinance by March 31, although it could happen sooner, city officials said.

The fee will be calculated using data from the Harris County Appraisal District and computer software to estimate “impervious surface” on every property in the city. Impervious surface will be defined as driveways or other paved areas, decks, foundations, building roofs, swimming pools and other areas that increase water runoff and contribute to drainage needs, said Andy Icken, the city’s chief development officer.

Agricultural property will be exempted, as will property in which owners implement their own drainage mitigation, such as with retention ponds, Icken said. According to state law, state buildings and higher education institutions also will be exempted.

Property owners may appeal the city’s estimate of impervious surface.

The story notes that Council seems to be coming in line with the view that everyone should pay the fee, which is fine by me. At this point, I’m just wondering when we’ll hear from the judge about that frivolous lawsuit that Prop 1 opponents filed in December. That and the remote likelihood of legislative interference would seem to be the biggest obstacles at this point.

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5 Comments

  1. Jules says:

    “Agricultural property will be exempted, as will property in which owners implement their own drainage mitigation, such as with retention ponds, Icken said. ”

    I’m fine with an Ag exemption, but are you OK with the Heights Walmart getting exempted, Charles? Cuz it’s supposed to have some sort of onsite detention (which they get totally reimbursed for via the 380 – including unknown/uncapped interest on the money they borrow to build it). So we get to pay for their private detention and they get out of the drainage fee.

    Shouldn’t homeowners get a break for rainbarrels and other onsite detention too?

    Thanks,

    Jules

  2. Jules – Are you sure there is a drainage mitigation plan in place for the Heights Wal-Mart?

    http://stopheightswalmart.org/2011/02/walmart-loop/

    I’ll reserve judgment about this for now.

  3. Jeannie says:

    I agree with Jules. If the taxpayers pay for the drainage, then Wal-mart should definitely not be exempt from the fee.

  4. Jules says:

    Charles, it’s really up in the air what they will do at the Heights Walmart for anything, including detention.

    The 380 does provide $308K in tax reimbursement for private detention (plus 20% soft costs and 20% contingency on top of that for a potential total of $443K) but Ainbinder can shift that money anywhere Mayor Parker lets him.

    BUT I don’t know if that will be enough detention to escape the drainage fee – the proposed ordinance is supposed to come out tomorrow – we’ll find out more then.

    Yes, we need to reserve judgment on this and keep watching and asking questions of our elected officials and their staffs. Like you say “knowledge is good.”

    Thanks,

    Jules

  5. Jules says:

    The proposed ordinance still isn’t up on the city’s website. I’m guessing a weather related delay.