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County wants to keep its share of the GMP

No surprise.

I still hope we get to have all this some day

Harris County Commissioners Court made it official Tuesday, passing a resolution calling on Metro to keep a quarter of its 1 percent sales tax flowing to road projects.

The 5-0 vote leaves only Mayor Annise Parker backing Metro Chairman Gilbert Garcia’s proposal to cap the so-called “general mobility” payments so the transit agency can put more toward buses and rail.


Garcia said he expects at least two or three ideas to be presented at Metro’s meeting on Thursday. The agency will choose one proposal Aug. 3 and will craft ballot language Aug. 17.

County Commissioners Steve Radack and Jack Cagle and County Judge Ed Emmett said the status quo is unfair to residents in some unincorporated areas of the county who pay taxes to Metro but get few services.

“It’s long overdue for the citizens of the unincorporated area of Harris County to stand together and fight against the unfair Metro sales tax imposed upon them,” Radack said, deriding Metro’s light rail as “a choo-choo train.”

Radack said common sense dictates the mobility payments should continue at the current level, given that the unincorporated county is growing faster than Houston.

“We’re not even on the discussion of what would be the reasonable or right, fair, thing today,” Cagle said. “We’re just saying, ‘Hey, don’t move the ball further into the hole.’ ”

Even Commissioner El Franco Lee, much of whose precinct is inside the city of Houston, said he favors the status quo.

“We get a better return the way it is now,” Lee said. “My understanding of that cap change is not favorable to the unincorporated area.”

You can always count on Steve Radack to elevate the discourse wherever he goes. All due respect to Commissioner Lee, but I’m not shedding any tears for unincorporated Harris County. They get plenty of my tax dollars, and more than their share of transportation projects. Last I checked, most of us here in Houston won’t be adding a drive down the Grand Parkway to our daily routines. That’s life, and that’s the way this works. Commissioner Cagle is correct that we haven’t worked out yet what is fair or reasonable. Nor do we know yet what Metro will propose; some kind of kick the can down the road compromise is a possibility. The Commissioners have expressed their opinion, at least one member of Council would like that body to do the same, and ultimately it will be up to the voters to decide. I trust Harris County will be willing to abide by their decision, even if it’s not the answer they want. Houston Politics has more.

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  1. Bill Shirley says:

    “it’s not fair” – are you kidding me, Steve Radack, Jack Cagle, and Ed Emmett?

  2. Chris says:

    Trying to use the language, choo-choo train, makes me know this ain’t all about what they’re really saying so if metro puts the right kind of ballot language with something smart in it, I’ll vote for them to change status quo for while that should be status quo that’ll just finish rest of lines of rail.

  3. […] around John Culberson. The smaller cities won’t like it, and it’s unclear to me how Harris County would react. The city may balk at being required to commit any of its GMP funds to this project, […]

  4. Personally I think Metro should be abolished in favor of a county-wide agency or even perhaps a regional authority. What should have happened is a IAH / HOU / Downtown / Galleria / Katy / Sugarland / Clear Lake / Woodlands system which would connect commuters and business travelers to their jobs / meetings.

  5. BFGConsultingHouston says:

    @ Chris : No offense, but if you think like you write, then I’m not surprised you would support something that is just a Real Estate Value Enhancement Scheme.
    Perhaps you live in the inner city and thus care mostly about what affects you directly, but for myself, and most Houstonians, we care about what affects all of us, both directly and indirectly.
    Chris, I would suggest that you study the issues much closer, especially the history of Metro’s, and light rail’s, promises and failures thereof.

  6. BFGConsultingHouston says:

    @ Bill Shirley : Though I generally agree with your assessment of those three county employees, I believe you should add at least three of Metro’s highly touted employees.
    We’ve been told that George Greanias is very intelligent, that Cristoph Spieler is very knowledgable concerning transit issues, and that Gilbert Garcia is an excellent manager, yet none of the three have “pushed away from” the obviously flawed light rail plan that benefits less than 1% of Metro’s tax payers, and turned towards a Commuter Rail plan that would benefit the entire Greater Houston Region.
    At one time, I was a vocal supporter of Steve Radack for his stance on Commuter Rail.He had written a pointed and intuitive essay on the benefits and viability of Commuter Rail, only to be “sucker punched” by an opposite-opinion rebut authored by a combination of one of his colleagues, El Franco Lee, and blogger Torey Gattis, in which the two of them basically made fun of Steve Radack and his ideas.
    And Steve just took it without answerring back.
    Ironically, just months later, blogger Torey Gattis proffered his own essay in support of Commuter Rail entitled “Brain Train”.
    Personnally, when it comes to transit by rail, I wonder if there’s a complete brain between the eight of them.

    G.F. Brown
    BFG Consulting-“When Honesty and Integrity Matter”
    PTSolutions-“Solving Tomorrow’s Transportation Problems, Today”
    Houston, Texas

  7. BFGConsultingHouston says:

    @ Charles Maricle :
    Charles, I agree with you 100%, and, in fact, have included those starting points and destinations, and more, in all of my plans, maps, and discussions.

    Connecting our suburbs and airports with the Central city is the most logical thing any transit planner could possibly do.

    Putting trains into the middle of our streets to connect one developer-owned project to another, in mere anticipation of a possible future increase in inner-city population that, in all likelihood, will never happen, is just the most illogical thing Metro could do.

    G.F. Brown
    BFG Consulting
    Houston, Texas

  8. Peter Houston says:

    The problem with transit is that too many people back a single solution as a fix, the amount of money needed to accomplish such plans just not there. Further, the ability to line your pockets as a politician is so amazing on this topic that I doubt any of them are left untouched once in office any length of time.

    Rail, any form of it, is expensive and needs the consumer to change their life long habits. Roads alone do not work for everyone though that is what we are trained almost from birth down here to accept. Buses are considered better to move “the other guy” since they are typically inefficient in terms of consumer time needed to get from one point to another; communities fighting tooth and nail to prevent bus lines from coming near their communities these days.

    If this area had a single employment destination, the equation would be relatively easy but it does not. Even if you consider the multitude of “employment islands” or commerce centers spread throughout the area, mass transit just does not work for most people. If we already had a system in place, employment centers could build around them but that won’t happen now so spending untold billions and forever subsidizing rail seems a fruitless endeavor for all but those who invest in the real estate needed.

  9. Thomas says:

    “Ironically, just months later, blogger Torey Gattis proffered his own essay in support of Commuter Rail entitled “Brain Train”.”

    LOL. Gattis has been consistently anti-rail on his blog. Hardly a week goes by without him parroting the latest Wendell Cox or Randal O’Toole screed, and he has written extensively on why he doesn’t think commuter rail will work in Houston.

    Why do we need commuter rail in Houston, anyway? Are you trying to tell me that our multi-billion-dollar HOV and P&R system, which provides faster and more direct service than commuter rail ever could, isn’t good enough?