From Houston Tomorrow:
After arriving at a decision two weeks ago in perhaps the most open, transparent public process in Houston history, a totally different deal was arrived at in Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack’s office early this week.
Reportedly under threats from Harris County, Houston Mayor Parker and Metro chair Gilbert Garcia have agreed to ask the board to almost completely change its earlier decision, which would have allocated the General Mobility Program funds to cities and unincorporated Harris County fairly according to how much of the sales taxes were collected in each of the jurisdictions.
Under the existing program, 14 cities and unincorporated Harris County get back far more than 25% of taxes collected in their jurisdictions and the City of Houston gets far less. The board decided last week that the ballot concept should correct those inequities and set up a formula for fair allocation.
Immediately after that vote, Commission Radack told the Chronicle that allocating money fairly was “disgusting” and began to apply pressure to the City and Metro. Now those entities have agreed to change the ballot to the following (and perhaps more):
- Leave the allocations as they are, limiting the City’s participation
- Cap the amounts at 2014 levels, with all increments above those levels split 50/50 between Metro and the other entities
- Prohibit Metro from spending any of its increment on rail expansion
- Remove the requirement for a new referendum no later than 2021
The Metro board will vote tomorrow (Friday) on final language for the ballot. Houston Tomorrow believes the board should stick with the result of the public process and reject this new backroom deal.
WE ASK OUR READERS TO SEND A QUICK NOTE TO THE BOARD RIGHT NOWtelling them you don’t support this Harris County attempt to circumvent the process, remove fairness from the ballot issue, and end rail expansion in the Metro area.
I sent an email. If you’re sick of the rural interests pushing the city around, and of corrupt power brokers attempting to subvert the democratic process, I encourage you to speak up as well.