And it’s back to the Mayor.
Pushed by Mayor Annise Parker to decide whether Houston’s aging police and courts buildings should get patchwork repairs or be fully replaced, with both options carrying staggering price tags, City Council members instead opted for indecision.
By a 12-4 vote, the body sidestepped both options – one of which could cost more than $1 billion – and referred the item back to the Parker administration. The measure was a nonbinding resolution, meaning any choice would have seen no money spent and no plan formally committed to.
Parker, however, said she presented the item to gauge whether council was willing to move forward with building a new cops-and-courts complex, as several million dollars are needed to continue the planning process, money that could be wasted if the council has no plans to ultimately approve the project itself.
“It’s either put hundreds of millions of dollars into the existing buildings or put hundreds of millions of dollars into new construction,” Parker said. “Council members want to vote ‘none of the above,’ and my job is to tell them you can’t say ‘none of the above.’ The buildings are becoming hazardous. It’s clear council members don’t want to take a position. When there’s no good answers, if they can duck, they’re going to duck as long as they can.”
City Hall insiders saw hypocrisy on both sides, however.
Just as Parker complained that council members, many of whom often complain about being excluded from key decisions, punted when given the chance to make a hard call. However, those suspicious of the mayor griped that Parker sought council input only when it was convenient for her to share the heat over a potentially unpopular proposal.
See here for the background. The bottom line is that some significant amount of money is going to have to be spent, at a time when there isn’t much loose change lying around. Doing that means either forsaking any other capital spending for the foreseeable future, or raising taxes. Council didn’t like either of those choices, and punted it back to Mayor Parker, in hopes that there’s an option C out there. Good luck with that. Campos has more.