Frequently Asked Questions - Q2


Question:

What triggered the perceived need for this charter amendment at this particular time?

Answer:

A totally unacceptable growth rate for many years in the cost of Houston city government, and the absolute refusal of city council to even acknowledge, let alone act upon, the great amount of resultant fat in the City’s budget. As illustrated by Exhibit A (click HERE to view), the cost of operating City of Houston government has grown dramatically over the last two decades, at about twice the combined rate of growth in population and inflation. Additionally, the City’s long-term debt has increased at a rate almost four times the growth in population and inflation. Much of the problems originated in the 1980s, when the City responded to the crisis of reduced revenue because of the oil bust by increasing the property tax rate several times totaling 27%, increasing water rates by 119% and increasing sewer rates by 161%. Then when the economy improved in the 1990s the City exacerbated its financial problems with increased spending and borrowing, rather than improving the city’s finances with paying down debt. Very disturbing is the fact that this imprudent financial management has come home to roost at the very time Houston property taxpayers are seeing their appraised property values careen out of sight, increasing tremendously in excess of the rate of inflation. The City should be flush with money from the past several years of good economic times, along with skyrocketing property tax appraisals and some of the highest water and sewer rates in the country. Yet the City apparently is considering continuing its fiscally unsound policies, by implementing a drainage fee (tax), possibly increasing its already too high water and sewer rates, enacting a garbage fee, borrowing from the debt service and rainy day funds to finance operations, etc. It is crystal clear that taxpayers must install a mechanism for keeping the City within sane fiscal parameters. We believe the proposed charter amendment is such a mechanism.



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