Harris County Commissioners Court today voted unanimously to instruct the County Attorney and the Legislative Relations office to work with the Texas Legislature to adjust current law to compel the City of Houston to collect and immediately remit to Harris County all city sales tax revenues collected at county venues like Reliant Park that are not currently committed to retiring stadium debt.
Commissioner Steve Radack, who had earlier complained that the city had imposed a drainage fee on Reliant and other county facilities that generate income, declined to comment on the issue when it came up for consideration at the commissioners court meeting.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory,” Radack said.
“Commissioner Radack I want to commend your innovative approach to try to bring this to the forefront,” Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, said adding his concern that the city is not working cooperatively with the county. “When we get into the mud to where one governmental entity decides that they want to start taxing, or laying fees, on another governmental body, the end of that game, I think is a very bad place to go, that I don’t think we need to be in….I would much rather, if the city is having financial difficulties that they ask for our help instead of laying a fee on us.”
Sure didn’t take Cagle long to pick up that Commissioner attitude, did it? The city isn’t looking for a handout, it’s seeking to collect a fee it’s rightly owed. Why should Reliant Stadium be different than other properties for which the government is acting as landlord for profitable private enterprises? I don’t understand why the concept of the county handing the bill to its very well-off tenant the Houston Texans, who would not be in that lovely facility if it weren’t for the generosity of the taxpayers, is so hard for Commissioners Court to grasp.
The city, for its part, says it will fight back by seeking legislation to exempt city residents from paying property taxes to Harris County. While I appreciate the feistiness, as well as hearing my own complaints about the city-county relationship echoed back, I don’t see this as a credible threat. The county, on the other hand, managed to get its legislation through one chamber this year, and unless someone takes a stand for the city I would not be surprised to see them succeed at getting their petty little wish fulfilled in 2013. I’m beginning to think litigation is the only viable option, if only I could think of a legal theory to pursue in court. Houston Tomorrow has more.