HOUSTON, Texas — A Texas lawyer has filed a lawsuit, and is attempting to have it declared a class action against the City of Houston, for the possibly illegal collection of drainage fees. The fees are one of the results of the 2010 Prop 1 “Rain Tax” charter amendment election, which is in danger of being thrown out after a recent Texas Supreme Court ruling.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion that the city misled voters about the drainage fee in ballot language. The State’s highest court sent the original lawsuit against the City on this matter back to the district court in Houston for another hearing. In an article about this decision, Breitbart Texas reported a possible “sharp financial downfall” for the city if the court rules against the city as is expected.
In the newest lawsuit, filed this week, Houston attorney Andy Taylor is seeking to force the City of Houston to reimburse residents who have been paying the possibly illegal drainage fee, according to the Houston Chronicle. Those fees have been reported to have totaled an estimated $500 million since the inception of the ReBuild Houston program.
Houston CPA Elizabeth Perez is the named plaintiff in the new lawsuit. Perez was also the named plaintiff in the original lawsuit against the City. Houston Mayor Anise Parker and Public Works and Engineering Director Dale Rudick are listed alongside the City as co-defendants.
Current Houston Mayoral candidate, Council Member Stephen Costello, a civil engineer by profession, was one of the primary proponents of the Prop 1 charter amendment in 2010.
“With a mayor’s race underway,” Texas State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) said in a prior interview with Breitbart Texas, “it will now fall onto Council Member Stephen Costello and others that supported this tax how they would implement the Court’s ruling or follow the Parker Administration in trying to kick the can down the road. I don’t see how that can possibly serve the public at all with such a strong ruling from the Texas Supreme Court.” Senator Bettencourt was one of the primary opponents of the Prop 1 “Rain Tax” issue.
“Under the arrogant leadership of Mayor Parker, City Hall has collected over $500 million in tax dollars illegally from innocent Houston taxpayers,” Taylor said in the Chronicle. “Today’s lawsuit not only seeks to halt the continuation of this illegal rain tax but it also requests reimbursement of every single penny of tax illegally assessed.”
The original lawsuit was sent back to the trial court after an extremely rare rebuke of the City by the Supreme Court of Texas. In the unanimous 8-0 opinion, the Court said, “The City did not adequately describe the chief features – the character and purpose – of the charter amendment on the ballot. By omitting the drainage charges, it failed to substantially submit the measure with such definiteness and certainty that voters would not be misled. Accordingly, summary judgment should not have been granted in the City’s favor. We reverse the judgment of the court of appeals, and, because only the City moved for summary judgment, remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
Taylor said he expects a quick victory in the district court on the original lawsuit and the Chronicle reports that legal experts agree the lower court will likely honor the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.