HOUSTON – Opponents of Proposition 1, Houston’s recently-passed drainage fee, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston.
The lawsuit calls Prop 1 “illegal” because “the ballot language does not accurately describe the object and effect of Proposition 1, causing the voters to be intentionally misled.” It asks the judge to invalidate the vote.
The plaintiffs are Allen Mark Dacus, Elizabeth C. Perez and Rev. Robert Jefferson.
Paul Bettencourt, an outspoken Prop 1 critic, told 11 News that the plaintiffs are a few of the Prop 1 opponents – including business and church leaders -- that met Wednesday to discuss how to challenge the drainage fee.
Those opponents decided to file a lawsuit Wednesday because it was the last day to do so, Bettencourt said. The vote was canvassed on November 15 and a lawsuit had to be filed within 30 days, he said.
“Proposition 1’s ballot language did not adequately describe what the electorate was actually being asked to vote on,” the lawsuit alleges.
“We just learned of this lawsuit and are reviewing it,” Parker said through a spokesperson Wednesday night. “Therefore, my only comment at this time is, the voters have spoken just like they have spoken on red-light cameras. I am committed to upholding the will of the electorate.”
Voters narrowly approved Prop 1 last month.
Renew Houston, the group of engineers that originally backed Prop 1, estimated the measure would cost the average homeowner just $5 a month to create a dedicated pay-as-you-go fund to improve drainage and stop the City of Houston from having to borrow money for infrastructure improvements.
Since then, several groups – including schools, churches and business owners -- have said they will ask state lawmakers to exempt them. That would drive up the cost for other homeowners.
Houston City Council must figure out how to implement the $8 billion referendum before next summer. Negotiations are underway, but they may prove difficult since several council members blasted the proposal before the November election.