New drainage fee structure announced

From the Mayor’s office.

Mayor Annise Parker today instructed the director of the Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering to adjust drainage fees for every property owner required to pay the fee. The adjustment will be accomplished by reducing the amount of impervious surface used to calculate the fee for each property by 1,000 square feet. This change will reduce the median residential drainage utility charge from approximately $8.25 per month to between $5 and $6 per month.

“This will address the concerns of homeowners who expected that the average monthly fee would be about $5,” said Mayor Parker. “I had previously indicated we would study the various alternatives for ensuring that voters could have the fee they thought they were voting for. Today’s announcement makes good on that promise in a fair and equitable way.”

The 1,000 square foot adjustment in impervious cover will be displayed on the bills Houston property owners will begin receiving in July. All residential, multi-family and commercial properties will see a reduction in their bills. However, citizens who live in smaller homes will see the greatest impact, with many finding that their fee is substantially reduced, or in some cases eliminated. The adjustment is legally permissible within the ordinance passed by City Council and will require no need for another vote by council.

“This change will have an impact on the amount of revenue we are able to collect, but it will still be a robust program of more than $100 million a year that will, for the first time in Houston’s history, provide for a dedicated pay-as-you-go source of funding to help address our flooding problems,” said Mayor Parker. “With this behind us we can now focus on moving the program forward.”

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? I twigged on that “program of more than $100 million a year” bit when I first read this, because I had thought that the referendum specified raising $125 million per year. I inquired and was told that was only the case for the first year. The $125 million for this year will be ensured through some prepayments on next year from city enterprise funds, which are separate from the city’s operational budget. Going forward, the city expects to raise about $110 million per year. Houston Politics has more.

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