City caves on drainage fee for churches

From the inbox:

Mayor Parker Announces New Rebuild Houston Funding Plan with Exemptions and Assistance for Low Income

Mayor Annise Parker today announced that she will ask City Council next week to approve a new Rebuild Houston funding plan that includes exemptions for churches and schools. In addition to the exemptions, the City will set aside half a million dollars that will be available to assist the disabled, senior citizens and low-income residents who cannot afford the drainage charge.

“I presented the draft Rebuild Houston Ordinance on February 6, 2011,” said Mayor Parker. “It was exactly as I promised voters, with no exemptions and everyone paying their fair share. After 10 town hall meetings, two public hearings, and discussions with council members, I believe this new plan properly balances community needs. I promised Houston homeowners this would cost them about $5 a month. The calculations indicate we can keep that promise while still helping our cash-strapped schools and our churches, and providing assistance to those who can’t afford the fee.”

Mayor Parker wanted to work this out here at home, not at the state capitol, and appreciates the patience of her colleagues in Austin, especially State Representative Harold Dutton. She calls this is an example of local control that accomplishes the goals she set at the beginning of this process.

The city charter amendment approved by Houston voters last fall mandates the imposition of a new drainage fee to raise a minimum of $125 million annually for a dedicated, pay-as-you-go, street and drainage improvement program. Monies raised from the fee must be placed in a lock box and cannot be used for other city needs.

For efficiency and cost-savings, the city intends to bill property owners, when possible, by including the fee on city water bills. Billing is scheduled to begin in July.

Houston City Council will be briefed on details of the new fee, assistance plan and enforcement mechanism at a committee meeting at 2:30 p.m. Monday, March 28, 2011. City Council will be asked to vote on the plan Wednesday.

In other words, Dan Patrick’s legislative blackmail worked as intended. I can’t say I blame the city for wanting to avoid this kind of hassle, but I can’t say I’m happy about it, either. But what’s done is done. Let’s get this wrapped up and move on to the next item on the agenda.

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4 Responses to City caves on drainage fee for churches

  1. Ross says:

    What do we have to do to get through the Mayor’s thick head that churches are major contributors to drainage issues, and should pay the fee. What do we have to do to force the City to act properly? File a discrimination suit?

    What business is it of Dan Patrick’s what the City of Houston does?

    It’s time for a new Mayor, this one is disappointing me at every turn.

  2. I would have absolutely no problem with churches paying not only this fee but also paying property taxes like everyone else. Churches, I assume, are all in favor of education etc., so why not contribute?

  3. mary t. says:

    As a token, churches and schools should pay the prevailing rate for their neighborhood–in most cases around 5 dollars a month if all the information out there is true. Exemptions at the outset will set a precedent that will be hard to overcome in the future. It is difficult to accept that some of the megachurches in Houston will never have to pay a drainage fee for their huge paved footprint that surely impacts the neighborhoods around them.

  4. Pingback: More on the drainage fee exemptions – Off the Kuff

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