Trash fee to pay for Prop B?

Hard pass.

CM Dwight Boykins

Houston City Councilman Dwight Boykins on Thursday proposed charging property owners a monthly garbage collection fee to finance raises for firefighters while avoiding job cuts for other city staff.

Under the proposal, most Houston homeowners would be charged a flat, monthly fee between $25 and $40 to help the city absorb the cost of raises for firefighters mandated by the pay parity charter amendment approved by voters last month.

Unveiled at a Thursday press conference, Boykins’ proposal comes amid a legal challenge by the city over the constitutionality of Proposition B, the charter amendment granting firefighters equal pay to police officers of corresponding rank and experience. The amendment was approved last month by 59 percent of voters.

“I believe the issue of pay parity was settled at the ballot box,” Boykins wrote in a Thursday letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner and his colleagues on council. “As elected leaders, our primary mission is to settle on an appropriate and responsible way forward. To this end, I am convinced that introducing a garbage collection fee is the most plausible plan to provide firefighters a pay raise while ensuring that no city worker loses their job.”

Turner’s office issued a statement in which the mayor said he was opposed to the idea: “Council Member Boykins and the Firefighters Association’s proposal to enact a $25 monthly garbage collection fee to pay for a firefighter’s 29% pay raise, underscores what I have been saying for months. The City cannot afford Proposition B. This measure will cost the city more than $100 million each fiscal year. I will not support forcing Houston homeowners to pay a costly new tax on trash collection to pay for firefighters’ salaries.”

Look, I support the concept of a trash fee. I just want that fee to apply to the function of collecting and managing the city’s waste. More curbside recycling, including plastic bags, curbside compost collection – there are lots of things that other cities that have trash fees do with them. Propose this as part of a zero waste plan, I’ll shill for it all day long. This is not a good use for a trash fee. Nice try, but no.

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12 Responses to Trash fee to pay for Prop B?

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    Turner should have put the CAP removal up for a vote, but everyone is afraid to say they voted for a tax increase. The Republicans have everyone spooked.

    What Turner is doing is playing the police and fire unions against each other. He is a puppet of his masters.

    Property evaluations of commercial properties is a joke, they are way under valued and are not paying their fair share.

  2. Ross says:

    A cap removal proposal would have failed, leaving the City in the same position it’s in now. I doubt Council would have voted to put it on the ballot.

    There’s nothing the City can do in the short term about commercial property valuations. That’s something the Legislature needs to fix, but probably won’t.

    Manny, where do you suggest the City gets the money to pay for Prop B? What other services do you want to cut? Keep in mind that police and fire are currently about 58% of the general fund budget, and significantly exceed the amount collected in property taxes.

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    Removing the Cap may or not pass, it depends on who gets behind it. People who never go to football game or baseball game are always voting to pay for stadiums.

    Without looking at all of the City finances, I would not be able to tell you. There was a time I probably could.

    I would suggest a five percent cut in budget from every department. The City wastes tons of money on useless things. They spend tens of millions on upgrading the Municipal Court software, not sure that they ever got it to work properly. Back when I worked there, I was invited to one meeting after listening to the contractor, I told them it would not work. I was told to leave and never asked to attend again.

    Another meeting when I pointed out that the logic for the programming was wrong and that I would not sign off on it. I was told to sign off, I did but stated that the director said it would work. It didn’t. There are hundreds of millions of dollars of engineering studies laying around that the city paid for.

    There is a lot of waste in the fire and police departments. I don’t have access to much of that anymore, and I can tell you that most council members treat the job as a part time job where they don’t have to do much.

    Council Offices should have maybe half the staff or less. Most of the staff is for re-election purposes.

    First cut costs, then see how much needs to be raised.

  4. Manny Barrera says:

    Ross why do we need an education czar? What actually do they do?

    The mayor citizens assistance is a get re-elect for the mayor, Kathy Whitmire would use it only for neighborhoods that voted and especially voted for her.

    There is a lot of waste Ross, but this forum is not necessarily for the people that believe that the elected officials are suppose to make sure that tax payers’ money is spent wisely.

  5. C.L. says:

    I’m with Kuff. What a redonkulous proposal. Let the people who voted Yes on Prob B pay $40+/- to get their trash and recycling picked up. I’ll stick with paying for the service via my $10K+ check to Harris County every January.

  6. Manny Barrera says:

    Recyling is not cost effective, we could remove that.

    Make Metro private and use that money for infrastructure to free money.

    Metro rail is a joke, I wonder how many people have used the Metro Rail, heck wonder how many use the buses.

    Those private companies like Lyft and Uber may be able to do it for less than what Metro costs.

  7. Ross says:

    Manny, how would making Metro private save the City money? They are totally separate entities with totally separate budgets.

  8. Manny Barrera says:

    Right now Metro takes up a 1 cent sales tax, if memory serves me right. The majority of the sales tax goes to the state, 6.25%.

    Remove that and it makes it easier to sell something that might be better. Not everything is clear cut. Remember Lanier had no trouble convincing other Cities to go along with his take money from Metro. Metro is not totally separate, we don’t vote for representatives to Metro, Mayor and City Council appoint the representatives. County and other Cities get appointments.

    The savings have to be made first before you try to sell a tax increase, whether it is a CAP or something else. People have to believe that you are trying to save money.

    Metro provides ridership primarily to three places, Medical Center, Downtown, and Galleria. We are subsidizing the people without vehicles or those like me that like to save money and don’t mind seating next to poor people, maybe because I am poor.

  9. Manny Barrera says:

    In short the city could raise its part of the sale tax by an equal amount that is removed from Metro.

  10. C.L. says:

    Manny’s right. Just like the folks who voted Yes on Prop B should be the only ones who pay $25-40 for trash and recycling pickup, only the folks who are riding Metro buses or Metrorail should be the ones who are paying for the bus fleet and light rail cars and maintenance, and only the folks with children in school should be the ones paying a school tax on their HCAD bill. If that ends up making Manny’s bus ticket cost $70 to ride from the NE side to the SE side, so be it.

    Yes, recycling at this point in time isn’t cost effective, but sometimes you suck it up for the benefit of the planet.

  11. Manny Barrera says:

    C.L. I use a reusable water bottle and drink tab water. If I can, I try to buy containers that are not plastic. I buy most things at Cotsco so there are no plastic bags, I get one recycled box to haul stuff. My reading is almost all digital so no paper products. I recycle the rain water.

    We have to prioritize things, I very seldom vote to increase taxes on myself, have never supported a stadium and have voted for only one HISD bond election, but I did vote for the penny tax for Metro. But I hate that cities like Sugarland, and others that way get the benefit of Metro without paying. The Park and Ride is almost entirely full of non-Houstonians riding them from the West Bellfort station.

    What I am saying that there may be more economical ways of doing what Metro does now.

    I do support re-cycling but heck this the forum where it gets attention if one suggests get rid of it. Now that we have your attention, what are your suggestions on saving money before maybe asking for tax increase or firing a ton of people as Bill Daniels wished for elsewhere?

  12. Jason Hochman says:

    The blog misses the point. Money is fungible. Charging a trash fee will offset the cost of trash pickup and that money can be used for something else, like Prop B. The trash and recycling collection is fine as is, I mean, it would be great if the city did more, but I will settle for what we have.

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