How do you fix Houston's crumbling drainage system?

HOUSTON The proposal includes a monthly fee that just about every property owner in the city would be required to pay, whether your property floods or not.

Supporters of the proposal call it 'Renew Houston.' If voters approve, it will dedicate a fund just to fix our city's crumbling flooding and drainage infrastructure. And while it may improve our streets, iit could also mean more money out of your pocket.

Craig Adams remembers the day 16 months ago when his house almost flooded. Like many Houstonians, he understands the city's drainage system is out of date and needs repair. But he doesn't like the idea of a drainage fee.

"Why am I going to pay a fee on a home that was already built in 1954?" asked Adams. "Why can the people who want to build, whether it be the developer or the homeowner, pay that fee?"

The issue of a dedicated flooding and drainage fund will be on the November ballot. If passed, developers will have to pay a drainage fee for new construction projects. Homeowners will also pay a monthly fee, depending on the size of their house.

The average cost -- $5 a month.

"I just wonder if the stakeholders accurately reflect the people who will be paying this fee if it were to pass," said Houston Councilmember Jolanda Jones.

A major backer of the referendum, Councilmember Stephen Costello, also owns an engineering firm that could benefit if the referendum passes.

"Could your own company make money if this passes?" we asked Costello.

"Well, most engineers who do municipal engineering will make money if they do work," he told us.

Costello says his firm has made very little money from city contracts and is more concerned about having adequate drainage in Houston. Some homeowners say if there's less flooding, they're willing to vote yes.

"But just going by what I can read, I thought the idea seemed reasonable, and I'd be willing to do that if they can fix the infrastructure," said Barbara Hunt, who supports 'Renew Houston.'

Again it will be up to you, the voters, to decide whether or not to pass this drainage plan. Supporters of 'Renew Houston' plan to spend about a million bucks going into the November election to try to get the effort passed.

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