Mayoral candidate Costello draws heavy fire over ReBuild Houston

Mayoral candidate Steve Costello has placed the majority of his political chips on the City of Houston pay-as-you-go infrastructure improvement plan known as ReBuild Houston.

"Who better to implement that program than an engineer? This program is a game changer for the community," said Costello.

And why wouldn't he?

As a city councilman, he was the program's architect and chief lobbyist.

"ReBuild Houston four years later we are actually doing three times as much in street and drainage work. We've lowered the City's debt in street and drainage by $350 million and we've done it with a smaller staff," said Costello.

Funded by a controversial fee many call the "rain tax" Costello's program and claims have drawn continual fire from a host of other candidates, headed by Chronicle columnist Bill King.

"We have not paid down any debt. His $350 million, that's the bonds that came due during this period we had to pay. At the same time, our general fund debt is up by $1.5 billion. This is like paying down $10,000 on my Visa bill and charging up $100,000 on my MasterCard and saying that I'm paying off debt," said King.

At today's Mayoral forum much of the field piled on, with allegations tax dollars are being re-directed or wasted.

"They were used for things that you were never told that they would be used for. That's wrong Steve and that's fraud on the voters. The (Texas) Supreme Court has held that the way you marketed to voters was misleading and deceptive," said candidate Ben Hall.

"If there was any confidence that it was being done right, we wouldn't be asking the question," said candidate Adrian Garcia.

"My first month in office I would call for an audit of ReBuild Houston," said candidate Chris Bell.

"The idea for ReBuild Houston is good, but the execution is a failure," said Candidate Marty McVey.

ReBuild Houston did draw qualified support from frontrunner Sylvester Turner who called the pay-as-you-go plan an "excellent concept" that needs to be fixed not replaced.