Mayor Parker unveils change to drainage fee

June 17, 2011 3:01:14 AM PDT
Houston Mayor Annise Parker says she wants to make sure people pay the drainage fee they voted for, even if that means the city can't raise all the money that was expected. Ask an average Houstonian how much their drainage fee may be and you often get something like this.

"I have no clue. How much is it normally? Ten dollars, 3 or 4 dollars?" wondered Houstonian Shynae Godfrey.

Initially, Mayor Parker told voters that the median drainage fee would be about $5 per month, but in reality, the first round of numbers puts it closer to $8. So Mayor Parker on Thursday announced a new plan.

"The Rebuild Houston initiative itself may bring in fewer dollars, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a great program," she said. "I'm very supportive of it, but this is about maintaining a level of fairness."

In the revamped drainage fee structure, there will be an 1,000 square feet impervious cover credit for every piece of property in town, bringing the median monthly home fee to $5.

Critics remain unsatisfied.

"This whole system has been a fix as you go instead of a pay as you go and we don't think that's the way to do business in public policy," said opponent David Welch.

But Mayor Parker says drainage fee opponents will never be satisfied.

"This is not about addressing critics. This is not about addressing the people who don't want this program, worked against this program, will never never agree this is an important program," said Mayor Parker.

The revamped structure is expected to raise $15 million less a year than the original plan of $125 million a year for drainage. Voters we talked to say they just hope all that money actually makes an impact.

"I'm never in favor of paying more money for anything, but if it supports the city and it's what the city needs, then absolutely I'm in favor," said Houstonian Bev Taylor.

If you get a drainage bill and it's much larger than what you expected, you're asked to contact the city to contest it. The city admits there could be mistakes.

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