Renew Houston

Council Member Stephen Costello unveiled a new group called Renew Houston.  This group aims to “bridge the gap between what the city can afford and the infrastructure construction, repair and replacement needed on an ever-growing basis” (see article in the River Oaks Examiner here).  This group’s mission is “establishing a designated fund that would be disbursed through the city to shore up Houston’s aging streets, drainage and water and sewer systems.”
Renew Houston would like to charge a monthly fee proportional to the amount of land you own (probably around $5/month for the average homeowner).  This money will go into a dedicated fund for infrastructure projects and to pay down existing debts on issued bonds.  They also want to charge a developer impact fee for all new developments in Houston.  We could sit here all day and argue the pros and cons of the monthly fee and developer impact fee, but before raising any taxes, we should ask two questions: 1 – are we handling Houston tax dollars to the best of our ability? 2 – Are there any unnecessary items that we can cut from the budget before raising taxes/fees?  My answers: 1 – no, 2 – yes.
So is this program necessary?  That is for us to decide.  Consider this: it is likely that if we cut every unnecessary item out of the budget that we still wouldn’t have enough money to fix our infrastructure problems.  Even if we devoted a whole year of taxes to infrastructure alone, it still wouldn’t be enough.  With HPD and HFD taking roughly 70% of our budget already, we will never have the money to complete necessary infrastructure projects without issuing bonds.
Houston elected officials should have been fixing our infrastructure problems all along, but they haven’t, and now we’re stuck with a huge and costly problem.  Renew Houston is not a program up for consideration by City Council.  This group is working hard to get enough signatures to put the proposal on the November ballot.  So if you agree with it, sign up at  I think there is still a lot to consider with this program, but it is up to you to decide.


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