'Rain Tax' reportedly not put toward flooding prevention

A city council member says millions of dollars meant to prevent flooding are being misspent. Mayor Sylvester Turner is now weighing in on the matter.

HOUSTON - It's a tax everyone in the City of Houston pays. It's called the Drainage Utility Charge and it's been in place since 2011.

Now, a city council member says millions of dollars meant to prevent flooding are being misspent and the Mayor is weighing in.

“Our infrastructure needs help,” said Houston Councilman Michael Kubosh. He claims too much of the money has gone down the tubes. 

“33 million dollars of it is going to pay salaries at public works.” said Kubosh. "The citizens voted, believing that the money that was going to go into this fund was in a lock box, and that it wasn't going to be used for anything other than dedicated drainage and sewer."

Kubosh filed an affidavit this week as part of ongoing lawsuit over the drainage fee. It shows $33 million for "FTE," or full-time employees in public works. 

Other expenditures Kubosh questions include $5.42 million for what’s called "signal maintenance," $2.2 million for "signs and markings," and $850,000 for "mowing maintenance." 

“I know we have to have money to run the city, but you don’t tell the taxpayers to vote one thing and then you do something else with the money,” said Kubosh. 

He says salaries alone account for a third of the more than $100 million meant to ease flooding. 

“Let’s spend the money for why we said we were going to spend it,” said Kubosh.

Mayor Sylvester Turner released the following statement on Wednesday:

"“The council member’s claim comes in an active lawsuit and will be dealt with in an official response filed with the court. I do have to say that it is extraordinary to see a sitting council member working with the plaintiffs in pending litigation to adversely impact city interests and the Houston taxpayers he is elected to represent. It is also surprising that he chose to take this step without the courtesy of informing me or the city attorney of his actions.”

The City Drainage Utility Ordinance has been around since 2011. The fee is charged to homeowners on their water bill. It's supposed to generate $125M each year for the city.

The related civil suit is due in court next week on Tuesday, September 27th.


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