On November 6, voters in the city of Houston and some surrounding communities will be asked to decide on several ballot measures. The issues will range from how METRO allocates its 1 percent sales tax to various bond measures for public schools, community colleges, parks and city infrastructure totaling $2.7 billion.

In an effort to keep the Houston REALTOR® community informed, the HAR Governmental Affairs Department has prepared a brief summary of each ballot measure below.

     ✔ Vote “For” the METRO General Mobility Plan Referendum – HAR RECOMMENDED

In August, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) board voted to place a referendum on the November 6 ballot, asking voters whether to continue the agency’s General Mobility Plan (GMP).   The GMP diverts 25% of METRO’s 1% sales tax to Harris County, Houston and 14 small cities in Metro’s service area. The local governments use these funds for non-transit projects such as roads, bridges, sidewalks, hike and bike trails, traffic signals, etc. in the METRO-served cities and counties.

Two important items to note are that the referendum does not involve a tax increase, and if voters reject the ballot measure, the payments would stop and Metro would retain all its sales tax proceeds.  You can learn more at www.ridemetro.org

     ✔ Vote “For” the City of Houston Bond Referendum – HAR RECOMMENDED

In August, the Houston City Council approved placing five bond measures on the November ballot to determine whether City Hall is authorized to borrow $410 million for municipal projects.  The total bond package will consist of five propositions:

  • Proposition A – includes $144 million for public safety needs
  • Proposition B – includes $160 million for parks, including the Bayou Greenways Project.
  • Proposition C – includes $63 million for health, sanitation/recycling, and general government improvements
  • Proposition D – includes $28 million for libraries improvements
  • Proposition E – includes $15 million for affordable housing efforts

In media reports, Houston Mayor Annise Parker emphasized that the measures do not call for a tax increase to pay the principal and interest on the bonds.  You can learn more at http://www.houstontx.gov/2012bondreferendum.html and www.parksbyyou.org

     ✔ Vote “For” the Houston Independent School District Bond Referendum – HAR RECOMMENDED

The largest bond package will be for the Houston Independent School District (HISD).  Trustees have placed a $1.9 billion bond measure on the November general election ballot which, if approved by voters, would do the following

  • Provide new campuses for 20 high schools
  • Partially replace 4) high schools
  • Renovate 4 high schools
  • Convert 5 elementary schools into K-8 campuses
  • Build 3 new elementary school campuses
  • Replace/complete 2 new middle school campuses

In addition, the proposed measure would include funds that would improve conditions for students in all HISD schools with technology improvements, new athletic facilities, renovated restrooms and enhanced security.

District officials estimate the bond issue would require phasing in about a 5-cent property tax rate increase, beginning in 2014.  This is expected to cost the owner of a $200,000 home an extra $70 a year in property taxes by 2017.  You can learn more at http://blogs.houstonisd.org/2012bond

     ✔ Vote “For” the Houston Community College Bond Referendum – HAR RECOMMENDED

In August, Houston Community College (HCC) trustees voted  to place a $425 million bond referendum on the November ballot.  If approved by voters on Nov. 6, the bond would help update classroom technology, build a new medical center facility, expand campuses and boost workforce development programs.

Under the plan, money would be designated for renovations or new construction at all six HCC colleges, including $27 million for a new workforce building in Stafford, $40 million in North Forest for workforce and early college buildings, and $53 million for a new westside campus at Westheimer and Eldridge Parkway.  The bond proposal also allots $120 million for a new health care education and early college building in the Texas Medical Center.

Similar to the HISD proposal, the HCC bond package would phase in a 2 cent to 3 cent property tax increase. This translates to about $37 annually for the owner of a $150,000 house, the Houston Chronicle reports.  You can learn more at HCC’s bond website, http://sites.hccs.edu/forums/