Garbage fee on the agenda

I don’t think this is going to pass, but it will get a vote.

CM Dwight Boykins

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday said he would put a proposed garbage fee on next week’s city council agenda, but will not vote for it.

Turner agreed to put the idea promoted by Councilman Dwight Boykins as a way to to offset the cost of firefighter raises mandated by Proposition B to a council vote, even as he called it “regressive” and said it would hurt low-income Houstonians.

“I will put it on the council agenda next week to let council members have their say, but I will not vote to impose this fee on the people of Houston,” he said on Twitter.


Boykins’ original proposal largely fell flat among his council colleagues, some of whom said the fees were far too high. Boykins since has floated lower rates, and said Wednesday that he would call for fees between $19 and $27 a month when council votes.

In a statement Wednesday, Boykins said he was the “only member of City Council to put forth a proposal that creates a steady revenue stream while preventing massive and destructive layoffs.”

“My proposal is an alternative that secures public safety while saving the jobs of up to 500 firefighters, 200 police officers and up to 300 city employees,” Boykins said. “It’s an opportunity for city leaders to lead, and I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this measure.

See here for the background. As you know, I support the concept of a garbage fee for the purpose of improving and expanding our existing solid waste services. I don’t support it for other purposes, such as using it to pay for firefighter raises. Fees are generally exempt from the revenue cap stricture – Mayor Parker raised a bunch of fees as part of her budget-balancing in 2010-2011, with some language at the time about what it cost to provide various services and how the fees for one service should not be subsidizing the cost of another. That said, I would wonder if something like this, which is both a big increase in what most people pay each year plus an obvious ploy to raise money to pay for something else, would run into a lawsuit challenging its validity under the revenue cap. Surely someone will seize on the opportunity to cause trouble. Be that as it may, the first question is who will vote for this. My gut says Boykins will have some support, but probably not a majority. But who knows? We’ll find out next week.

One more thing:

If the Mayor is opposed [to the garbage fee proposal], why put it on the agenda?

For one thing, so the firefighters will not be able to claim later on that Turner never even put a valid proposal to pay for Prop B up for a vote. The ads write themselves – “He never even gave it a fair chance!” They can still claim he opposed it, of course, but if Council votes it down by (say) a 12-5 margin, that takes some of the bite out of it. Also, too, by letting the vote go on there will necessarily be a discussion about how much the fee would be, which might make people think a bit differently about Prop B. It’s not like the firefighters ever put a price tag on it, after all. If people realize that paying for Prop B will cost them personally $200 to $300 a year – down from $300 to $500 as in the original proposal from Boykins – they might see the Mayor’s point more closely. Finally, if Turner is wrong and the proposal passes, he no longer has to lay anyone off and he can let individual Council members explain their vote. I think letting the garbage fee be voted on makes more sense from Turner’s perspective than refusing to put it on the agenda would have.

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9 Responses to Garbage fee on the agenda

  1. Manny says:

    The timing is wrong, this being an election year and probably no council member that is running for reelection would support such an increase.

    While if would be placed on the ballot I would vote for it as I supported Proposition B.

    Having stated that the people that would have to pay it would most likely be those that get garbage collection from the City, that excludes almost all business, apartment complexes, churches, and a few others. The home owners which already have burdensome property taxes would be settled with the increase to pay for the firefighter’s pay increase.

    It would make more sense to have a water fee as everyone, there may be exceptions, uses water, thus the fee amount would be lower and everyone that would use fire fighters in case of emergency would have to pay for it.

    Or; When people are in an accident and the fire fighters, ambulance, show up, if the persons are not city residents, they should be charged an additional fee, the insurance would probably pick it up.

    Or as some small towns do is charge a fire fighter fee and if you have not paid, they don’t show in case of a fire.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I never understood why Houston doesn’t do what every other city does, and charge for trash pickup. It’s a legitimate fee for service, just like water. If they do enact the trash charge, it should only be paid by homeowners and renters who actually have city trash service. As Manny correctly points out, businesses, apartments, etc. don’t have city trash service and thus shouldn’t be paying for something they aren’t getting.

    A user fee is the fairest way to fund things. I am assuming that a new line item charge for trash pickup would not effect the revenue cap.

  3. Manny says:

    But my favorite is a transportation tax on all non-Houstonians. If they use our roads they should be pay for its use;-)

  4. Bill Daniels says:


    Y’all already have that tax. It comes in the form of the HPD speed traps all over your roads! And then we haven’t talked about the blackmail Houston gets from The Woodlands in order not to annex them. Then there’s all the sales tax revenue from people who don’t live in the city but shop there.

    Why not just levy a special tax on the firefighters? They will have the money, thanks to those big raises, and most don’t live in the city of Houston.

  5. Manny says:

    Bill that was my last comment, on a fee on fire fighting.

    Those foreigners would have to prove they shopped here.
    But I added the transportation tax as a jest to get you to respond, have a great day.

  6. David fagan says:

    Lawyers shouldn’t ask questions of a witness they don’t already know the answer to, I think the mayor has an idea about how it will go, or he wouldn’t allow it. If it’s voted down, the mayor has someone else to blame, if it’s passed, I think the council will look favorably and like the council has a place and a say in a strong mayor government. he said also that This can also improve trash pickup, and in his district, people dump trash in the ditches, so maybe he also has his district in mind.

  7. david fagan says:

    For the large conventions and events, like the Super Bowl, there should be a public safety fee on incoming flights. It would make sense to have a public safety fee on flights anyway since people come into Houston for business on Mondays and leave on Fridays, it will not be a fee on people who live and work in Houston, but on people who commute.

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    Hey Manny,

    Not to be off topic, but your boy Mueller’s finished with his witch hunt? Surely this will be the end of Drumpf now, right? Right? LOL

    I’m looking forward to all that Russian puppet collusion-y goodness, aren’t you?

  9. Manny says:

    Bill, Muller is not my boy, but the

    New York Feds are still looking at Trump and family,

    New York Attorney General is investigating the Trump organization and who knows what else

    New York City is investigating Trump

    and last but not least the House is looking at everything Trump has done,

    Your boy Trump can only hope that he wins again, so that the statute of limitations runs out

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