The effort to create a dedicated fund for flooding and drainage is moving along at a good clip.
Renew Houston, the non-profit committee formed to seek at least 22,000 ballot signatures in a bid to put the matter to voters in November, sent direct mail this week to about 150,000 households. Many received automated phone messages about the proposed charter amendment, as well.
If approved by voters, the proposal would create a dedicated fund for drainage and street renewal, using revenues from fees charged to businesses, homeowners and developers, as well as a portion of property tax money that presently is being used to pay off debt associated with infrastructure projects.
The $8 billion to improve drainage would come primarily from three sources. First, the “Stormwater User Fee” that is expected to amount to about $5 per month for an average homeowner and $90 a month for an average commercial property owner with 14 units per acre.
Second, a “Development Impact Fee” would set up a program by which developers have to pay for the degree to which their projects impact density.
Third, a “pay-as-you-go” plan that would take the estimated one-sixth of total city property tax revenues used now to pay for interest costs on debt that has financed infrastructure and drainage projects and apply it directly to new projects. In other words, the city would not incur additional debt to pay for infrastructure as part of the plan and as old debts are paid off, money used to make those payments would be put to drainage and infrastructure projects.
You can see a bit more about Renew Houston at their web page, though it’s a bit light on details at this point. I’m somewhat unclear on that last item above, but as it happens I’ll be attending a briefing by the Renew Houston folks today, so one way or another I hope to get my questions answered. I’ll post something about that afterward.