Letter From Austin: Elections Have Consequences

by Julie Drenner on June 9, 2011

photo by MOLLYBLOCK/Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Elections have consequences.  And the residents of Houston are finding out just how much money those consequences personally cost.

Back in November, the city’s voters passed a “rain tax”, advertized by Mayor Annise Parker and proponents of the proposition as $5 a month charge on average.  Turns out that average was based on only 1,875 square feet of impervious coverage.  Many residents did not realize that driveways, garages, and pools would double or even triple that amount.  The city’s rate of 3.2 cents per square foot can really add up even on the modest of homes simply because of a long driveway or multiple structures on the property.

Property owners are already planning to protest and claim city officials misled the public leading up to the election.  Next time, better read the fine print before voting for any new fee, bond or tax.

The Texas legislature’s regular session ended last Monday, but that does not mean the work ended.  Immediately, the Governor called a special session to address school finance and healthcare.  Since then,  the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), and sanctuary cities have been added to the call.

This week, the House re-filed its TWIA bill and held a hearing on Tuesday. It is expected that the Senate will just pick up that version after it is debated on the House floor.  The special session will only last 30 days, so watch for things to really move quickly.

Various forecasters have predicted a direct hurricane hit this year. Good thing TWIA finally purchased reinsurance to help protect taxpayers from undue exposure.

Until next week,

Julie Drenner, Texas Director

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