Texas Supreme Court Deals Houston Defeat On Drainage Fees

The high court ruled the ballot language used to win voter approval for the measure in 2010 was misleading.


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Texas Supreme CourtImage credit: Wally Gobetz/flickr image

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of three property owners challenging the City of Houston’s drainage fees.

Houston voters approved the creation of a drainage fund through a charter amendment in the 2010 elections. The proposed amendment, known as Proposition 1, described it as a pay-as-you-go fund. However, one of the chief features of the measure was a monthly fee on property owners to pay for street and drainage repairs.

“The Supreme Court made it pretty clear that it believes the ballot language was not sufficient, and was thus misleading voters about whether they were voting for a drainage fee or something else,” says Dylan Russell, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Two lower courts had previously sided with the City of Houston. But the Supreme Court overturned those decisions and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

While Mayor Annise Parker was not available for comment, she did release a written statement, saying the ruling is, quote, “but one step in the ongoing legal process. It does not change the City’s ability to continue with the program.”

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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