Houston officials, including Mayor Annise Parker, heard a laundry list of questions, complaints and suggestions from District C residents at the first of 11 public meetings to receive community input on how the city should prioritize its capital improvements projects.
“The purpose of this meeting is to make sure we know what your concerns are,” District C Council Member Ellen Cohen, who organized the meeting, told the crowd of about 150 people. Those concerns ranged from a long-awaited youth center in Freedmen’s Town to drainage on Richmond to sidewalk accessibility around the district.
The city uses its 3-1-1 phone system, FEMA flood claims, and a street surface assessment vehicle, which can also read any inconsistencies below street surfaces, to evaluate and find potential projects for improvement, Dale Ruddick, head of the ReBuild Houston intitiative, said. ReBuild Houston is the city’s pay-as-you go program for capital improvements. Under it, capital projects will be paid for by new drainage fees, while debt will be paid by existing sources of funding, such as ad valorem taxes.
Ruddick said the city prioritizes projects based on a “worst first policy” but also looks at cost benefit, taking into account how much a project will cost and how many residents it will affect.