ReNew Houston Campaign Meets Petition Drive Deadline

Houston is one step closer to a new way to pay for some badly-needed upgrades to its aging infrastructure. Organizers of a petition drive say they have turned in enough petition signatures to get a charter amendment on the fall ballot that, if approved, would set up a dedicated source of funding for streets and storm drains. David Pitman reports.

The ReNew Houston campaign says more than 60 percent of the city’s street and drainage system has outlived its usefulness. And Mayor Annise Parker has said the city doesn’t have the funds to upgrade the infrastructure inside the Loop. ReNew Houston says the solution is to create a dedicated funding source. Jeff Ross is a civil engineer who works with the ReNew Houston campaign. He says the funds would come from four different sources — among them, a new monthly user fee.

“For a fairly-standard 5,000 square foot lot, with a house of about 2,500 square feet of total impervious cover would pay somewhere around 5 or 6 dollars a month.”

Ross says the goal is for Houston to switch from selling bonds to rebuild infrastructure to a “pay-as-you-go” system.

“If you’re gonna do the same-sized program year-in and year-out, it doesn’t make sense to sell debt to do that. You end up paying more in interest and principal every year than you get in improvements.”

On Thursday, ReNew Houston turned in about 35,000 petition signatures seeking voter approval for the creation of a dedicated funding source. The city has to verify the signatures and approve the ballot language. If voters say yes in November, the plan could raise as much as $8 billion dollars for streets and drainage over the next 20 years.

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David Pitman

David Pitman

Host, Morning Edition

Hi there. I’m glad you found me. Let me take a moment to answer some of the questions you might have about me and my job. I have worked as Morning Edition Host and reporter at News 88.7 since August of 2009. Previously, I hosted Morning Edition at WMFE in...

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