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Costello votes no to CIP amendment re: rebuild Houston funds


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From Costello enewsletter letter

Council Member Stephen Costello will strongly oppose all Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) amendments allowing the use of ReBuild Houston Program funds for the proposed Council Member District Service Project Program. Amendments to the CIP will be considered at the Wednesday, July 8, 2014, meeting of the Houston City Council.

In voicing his opposition to the amendments, Council Member Costello issued the following statement:

"Voters supported the ReBuild Houston program because they recognized the overwhelming need to improve our city's aging infrastructure. At the time of debate and passage, the Mayor and City Council promised that supported projects would be prioritized based on unbiased data, not politics. Unfortunately, today's proposed amendments retreat from those promises. As a result, I will be voting "no" and will be asking that the mayor and my fellow city council members join me in opposition.

In the course of today's debate, I will argue that ReBuild Houston funds are not designed for use by individual council members for projects of their own selection. That was never how voters perceived this program and I believe that the city has an obligation to keep the promises made."


Voters passed Proposition One in November of 2010 in order to create a pay-as-you-go "lockbox" fund for street and drainage repairs and improvements. Since its inception, this program, now known as ReBuild Houston, is responsible for reducing the city's overall debt by over $130 million, yielding an additional $42 million for capital projects, with another $33 million expected this year. Further, the program contributes over $100 million annually to drainage improvements.

In the past, the city identified need based on a largely reactive, subjective, and often very political process. Conversely, ReBuild Houston incorporates advances in technology to assess infrastructure condition and uses a data-driven process to determine project need. This does not preclude council members from having input into the process. In fact, since the program began, the CIP Process Manual for Infrastructure Programs has been revised to allow for greater council member input.

More information on ReBuild Houston can be found at www.ReBuildHouston.org, including the CIP process manual here.

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Well I'm glad he is taking a stand to make sure that the original intent of this organization and its funds is kept in tact. Do we have any other info as to the opinions of other council members and the mayor if they feel the same way? I'm quite sure that many council members have their hands in the cookie jar so lets not be naive about that, but is it so egregious that it warrents voting no to the whole thing? Is this just a vote to simply make a statement so it will be on record? If this does get voted no does that kill the project or does it simply go back to get revised?

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