In November 2010, Houston voters narrowly approved Proposition 1, an amendment to the City Charter to “…provide for the enhancement, improvement and ongoing renewal of Houston's drainage and streets by creating a Dedicated Pay-As-You-Go Fund for Drainage and Streets.” Houston city leaders must now implement a drainage fee.
Beginning in July 2011, owners of residential and commercial property in the Houston city limits will begin paying a drainage fee, which will be added as a line item on water bills. Apartment properties will pay an annual fee currently projected to be 3.2 cents per square foot of “impermeable surface” (building footprint, parking lot, etc.), which will be paid in monthly installments on the property’s water bill(s). The drainage fee can be allocated to residents if that allocation is agreed to as part of either the lease agreement or lease addendum. It is estimated that this fee will range between $1 to $6 per unit for most properties.
Mayor Annise Parker has proposed lowering the drainage fee the city will start charging Houston property owners next month.
The charge per square foot will not change, but the mayor proposes exempting 1,000 square feet of hard surface at each home or business. It is expected to lower the median bill from $8.25 a month to somewhere between $5 and $6.
“We want to make it right for the voters,” Parker said. “This is about being fair to the voters who went out and voted for this program.”
The arrival of sample bills at homes last month caused an outcry because so many were much higher than the $5 average widely advertised by Proposition 1′s proponents. In November voters narrowly approved the 20-year, $8 billion program to shore up the city’s drainage system.