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ReBuild re-vote approved

Add another item to the ballot.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

City Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to put the controversial street and drainage program known as ReBuild Houston before voters again in November, but not before tweaking the ballot language in hopes of avoiding future court challenges.

The Turner administration should find out quickly if they were successful.

The lawyer who represented the conservative plaintiffs who got the Texas Supreme Court to throw out the original 2010 charter amendment already has asked a judge to force the city to include ballot language specifically stating that drainage fees will be imposed on and paid for by property owners.

[…]

Turner, however, has said approval of the charter amendment would be limited, calling it an an affirmation of “what already is,” and saying it simply would solidify a dedicated source of funding to continue the ReBuild Houston program as it is being run today. The drainage fee, which is a key part of the program, is not at risk in the November referendum because it was created via city ordinance, not by the 2010 charter amendment.

“I think we all support a dedicated source (of funding),” Turner said Wednesday. “I think we all support the emphasis being placed on drainage, flooding and streets … We’re all passionate about it, but I think there is more agreement than disagreement around this table.”

See here for the background. I confess, it’s not clear to me what the stakes are in this vote, just as it’s not clear to me what the neverending litigation is about. As the story notes, Council voted to approve an ordinance that instituted the fee. Even with the obscure stakes, I doubt there’s any ballot language short of language written by Andy Taylor himself that would satisfy Andy Taylor and his flood-loving plaintiffs. I’d put something on like “ReBuild is what we say it is, mofos”, but then that’s probably why I’m a blogger and not a public official. Be that as it may, a-voting we will go this fall. KUHF has more.

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6 Comments

  1. Jules says:

    That is what’s happening – the mofo thing – it doesn’t matter what the vote is, the rain tax will never be in a lock box and used for drainage. Terrible.

    Awful that the ordinance was based on the illegal ballot language yet allowed to stand.

  2. Ross says:

    Ummm, the rain tax does actually go into a dedicated accounting fund, and is used for drainage projects. Some of those projects involve ripping out streets to get to the storm sewers, so there’s some street work included.

  3. Jules says:

    Ummmm how much of the rain tax went to retire debt? How much goes to pay the salaries for jobs that existed before the rain tax?

  4. Ross says:

    None of the rain tax goes towards paying debt, that comes out of the General Fund. There’s a page on the Rebuild Houston site that explains it.

    If the employees are working on drainage projects, it is totally appropriate for their salaries and benefits to be charged against the projects.

    I assume you would prefer to have no work done at all, and have the City continue to have drainage issues, or do you have a better alternative? Keep in mind that the revenue cap limits the amount of General Fund dollars, and that police and fire cost more than the total of all collected property taxes.

  5. Jules says:

    Ross, posted a link from rebuikd houston site about the debt, might show up in a bit. This is one reason for the lawsuit – people think that the rain tax just goes to drainage projects. That is wrong.

  6. Jules says:

    Rebuild does pay down debt – but not from the rain tax, it comes from the property tax portion of Rebuild. So I was wrong about that.

    Street work, including asphalt layers, is 100% included in Rebuild. Bridges too.

    Just because I’m opposed to bait and switch does not mean I don’t want work done. And LOL on the “have the City continue to have drainage issues”, I guess I didn’t notice the end of drainage issues. Did that happen July 5th?