On March 11th 2009, Houston City Council increased your water bill by 5%: 3.3% for inflation and 1.7% for maintenance. This was a total increase of about $2.00 a month. I was against this increase last year and said that this money won’t cover the costs needed to repair and maintain the water system (I posted this in my old blogspot blog during the campaign).
Now City Council is proposing another increase – you know, to account for the repairs and maintenance. One option is an increase of 14%, which will be a bit more than $3.00 a month. That’s a total increase of over $5.00 a month within a year.
Now I know that $5.00 might not seem like a lot, but it is for many people. Regardless of whether or not you are concerned with $5.00, you should be concerned that this possible 14% won’t be enough to fix the problems associated with our water system in Houston: our pipes are old, the cost for chemicals and power to provide water outpaced inflation, and flooding often wrecks havoc on our water system.
Until we get our budget under control, and until we have a long-term plan for our water system, I think it is irresponsible to increase taxes. In a quote from the Houston Chronicle, Councilmember Ed Gonzalez said “The ultimate goal is to provide a sustainable water service for the community. It’s one of the primary functions of city government. The system has been strained over the years”. I think we can all agree with that… until he went on to say, “I think we have to be open to everything”. Everything? I sure hope ‘everything’ doesn’t include raising taxes and then planning later.
Councilmember C.O. Bradford said, “Our economy is now sagging terribly down”. He also opposed increases in taxes, fees, or rates “particularly when we haven’t had a healthy, productive, broad discussion about reducing spending. We must start with reducing spending and looking at core services” (quote taken from Houston Chronicle). Thanks Councilmember Bradford. That’s what I, and Houstonians, like to hear from our elected officials! I hope he can get the rest on board.