Clear Lake residents are outraged that they have to pay the new drainage fees but not for the same reasons that other Houstonians are upset. Clear Lake was annexed byHoustonin 1977, but its sewers and drainage facilities are still maintained and operated by the Clear Lake Water Authority, created by the state legislature in 1963. ClearLakeresidents don’t receive water benefits from the city, so they want to be exempt from paying this fee.
Council Members Mike Sullivan and C.O. Bradford don’t believe those in Clear Lake should have to pay, and I agree; however, it’s not as simple as it may appear. If ClearLakeresidents are exempt because they don’t benefit from Houston drainage services, can Houstonians who live in areas that don’t flood be exempt too? Even with the additional $125 million a year for flooding/infrastructure projects, there are certain areas of Houstonthat will be last on the list to receive updated drainage equipment because they don’t flood as much as other areas. So if it will be years before they see any benefit to this money, will they get to be exempt too?
You pay money to your city, state, and federal government for a variety of services you may never use. Does that mean you don’t have to pay the tax portion of your money that goes towards those areas? We don’t get to pick and choose which items we want to pay for based on which services we use.
My point is not to say that Clear Lake residents should have to pay because I actually think they have a valid point for being exempt. Rather, I think this speaks to why this tax is not ideal. When the city added this fee as a separate tax, it opened itself up to these types of problems and questions. We do need a dedicated fund for infrastructure and drainage, but it needs to come out of the general fund or problems like these will continue to appear.