Pastors Reject Mayor's Compromise on Drainage Fee

A group of Houston pastors are rejecting a compromise made by Houston Mayor Annise Parker on the city's controversial drainage fee. Laurie Johnson reports.

After ten townhall meetings and two public hearings, Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced last week that she heard the concerns of citizens and will offer a drainage fee exemption for churches, schools and government agencies.

But a group of pastors who lobbied hard to get the exemption for churches now says they will not support the ordinance at all.

In a press release sent in conjunction with Paul Bettencourt, who is suing the city over the drainage fee, the Houston Area Pastor Council asserts it is in complete opposition to it, referring to the drainage ordinance as an ill-conceived scheme under dark clouds of moral, ethical and legal questions.

Mayor Parker says the city charter requires council to implement the ordinance by the start of the 2012 fiscal year.

"There are always folks who aren't happy about anything that we do. It's part of the nature of the job. But the citizens of Houston voted for Rebuild Houston, voted to pass the drainage fee and we are doing our best to implement it in a fair and consistent manner. I think that Houstonians will be well pleased at how we administer this program and they will certainly be pleased with the results as we keep water out of homes and businesses."

Bettencourt and the coalition of pastors counter that the ordinance overcharges property owners and that the exemptions would not be granted to churches and schools built after the ordinance goes into effect.

The ordinance will come up for city council vote this Wednesday.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...