A lawsuit has been filed in Houston District Court alleging Mayor Sylvester Turner and members of the Houston City Council illegally diverted funds away from programs meant to fix Houston's streets and drainage systems.
The lawsuit filed by engineer Bob Jones the mayor and city council violated Proposition A, a law passed in 2018 that funnels tax money to the Dedicated Drainage and Street Renewal Fund.
"Houstonians spoke loud and clear just one year ago when they voted to create a fund to fix our streets and drainage," said Jones. "The budget recently passed by the City of Houston ignores the will of the people and violates the law by diverting tax dollars dedicated to streets and drainage to other purposes."
Mayor Turner's political rival Mayoral Candidate Tony Buzbee is weighing in on this lawsuit saying, "The drainage fee should be spent on drainage!"
The mayor's office released the following statement in response to this lawsuit:
The city disagrees with the premise and the demand of the lawsuit, which would cripple city services.
The charter calls for “an amount equivalent to” the $0.118. Once the city had to lower its tax rate because of the revenue cap, the amount transferred is the equivalent amount under the lower tax rate.
Transferring the 11.8 cent full amount would mean a reduction to the General Fund budget of $50M in this fiscal year alone. That would mean cuts to essential services like police, fire, solid waste, and other services. Mayor Turner doesn’t support that.
The 11.8 cents was the amount of the tax rate at the time that covered the existing debt payment that was attributed to previous street and drainage projects. Of a total tax rate of $0.63875 per $100 valuation, the 11.8 cents was equal to 18.5% of the total property tax rate.
The equivalent of 11.8 cents has now exceeded the scheduled annual debt payment for existing debt when Proposition 1 was passed. Using the current tax rate, the percent allocated to DDSRF would increase from 18.5% to over 20%, and with the additional tax rate reduction just adopted, it would be nearly 21%.
The city will vigorously defend its position
Read the full lawsuit below: