What will new drainage fee mean for you?

January 26, 2011 3:33:41 PM PST
We're learning new details about that controversial drainage fee which voters approved back in November.

It's a monthly fee that will affect nearly every property owner in Houston, and it's money that will fund various drainage projects across the city.

City leaders will soon decide whether to exempt schools, churches and county buildings, which means you would have to pay more.

We know that there will be a drainage fee, and if you own a house or business, you'll have to pay it. Bit how much will depend on who else won't have to foot the bill.

Keeping her neighborhood gutters clear is something Jan Van Liere takes seriously as a responsible homeowner.

"We want to have roads that don't flood," she said.

Van Liere and friend Karen Kucker both voted in favor of a citywide drainage fee last November.

"To prevent these horrible floods that we have," Kucker said.

Now, they have a better idea of how much it will cost them.

According to estimates presented to City Council on Wednesday, for an average Houston home with a 1,875 square-foot footprint on a 5,000 square-foot lot, homeowners with a curb-and-gutter drain would pay $5 per month, and those with open-ditch drains would pay $4.06 per month.

"If you have a big, sprawling 'McMansion' or you have decided to pave your entire lot, you're going to pay more than someone who has a small house and a lot of green space," Mayor Annise Parker said.

Council could choose to exempt schools, churches, even county buildings. But if that happens, more of the burden would shift to homeowners.

It will be several months before council members will decide on whether to exempt certain entities. If they do, homeowners could pay 30 to 40 cents extra a month.

Van Liere knows how she feels.

"I think anyone in the city limits that uses drainage should pay. I think churches and schools and everybody should pay according to their square footage, and I think that's only fair," she said.

The city is scheduling public hearings on the topic in March.