Little support for "Storm Tax" in flood-hammered Kingwood


In flood-crushed Kingwood, where as many as 5,000 homes took on water, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's plan to jack property taxes 8.9 percent is widely viewed as adding insult to serious injury for families now uncertain what their homes are even worth.

"I'm hearing Houston Association of Realtors is already putting a little check box on there whether you got flooded by Harvey or not so if someone is shopping for a new home if there is a checked box where you got flooded, they are probably not going to look at your house anymore," said Albert Harvey whose Kingwood home was flooded.

Also angering Harvey and his Kingwood neighbors is the City's plan to tax residents property based upon its pre-flood value, a process they see as fundamentally unfair.

"I don't know what this is going to be worth going forward. I just had my FEMA guy here and I was staggered by the amount of money he said to replace it," said Mike Quinn, whose Kingwood home also flooded.

Houston City Council member Dave Martin says folks in his district have heard the Mayor's pitch for more recovery cash and still oppose the additional tax burden by a margin of nearly 10-1.

"The people who suffered the most are the people who are probably going to pay the dearest and we don't want that to happen. If you suffered damage you shouldn't also be subject to another 9 percent tax. That makes no sense," said Martin.

Martin, a budget hawk with deep knowledge of city finance, believes the city can tap existing reserves for much of the recovery and contends the Mayor's tax hike could trigger an ugly backlash with devastating consequences.

"My fear is that if we implement a tax increase at the end of October and then we turn around and ask our voters to give us money for pension obligation bonds it will go down in flames," said Martin.

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