The Legislature is in the process of considering House Bill 3029, a bill filed by Rep. Dennis Paul, R-Houston. The bill would create the district to provide an authority to issue bonds, impose fees, impose taxes and grant the power of eminent domain.
In other words, the district would exist as a body that would have the ability to tax its residents to fund the coastal barrier and similar projects related to reducing flooding from hurricanes and coastal storm surge. State officials expect the barrier and subsequent projects would cost at least $32 billion.
A memo to City Council recommended the body approve a resolution supporting the district.
“A partnership among federal, state and local agencies has been demonstrated to be the most efficient and cost-effective means to complete a regional coastal barrier,” the memo reads.
However, not all council members were immediately on board.
Council Member Nick Long said it is premature to voice support for a bill still being considered, though he does support the coastal barrier in general.
Council Member Hank Dugie said by supporting the creation of the district, City Council is not necessarily voicing support for new taxes.
“If [the district] ever wanted to draw taxes, they’d have to take it to a vote of the people,” Dugie said.
Dugie supported the resolution, saying the coastal barrier needs wide local support to be created.
“It’s gonna take all of us to push it in the right direction,” he said.
Mayor Pat Hallisey said the federal government has never done anything it does not require local participation on, and the coastal barrier will be no exception. However, he is not sure if the district would be a taxing entity because it is still in committee.
Council Member Chad Tressler said, by definition, the district would be a taxing entity, but the issuing of any bonds that would require taxation would have to go before voters.
As council members debated the topic, Hallisey said, “I don’t wanna give off the idea that League City is against the coastal spine.”
Tressler agreed, saying flooding is the No. 1 issue the Bay Area faces, and so cities must show support for the coastal barrier. He pointed out City Council is not voting on the bill itself, as they are not legislators.
A motion was made to support the creation of the district without a direct link to HB 3029, which passed unanimously.