The three fees, which ranged from $19 to $27 on citywide trash collection, were aimed at curbing the cost of implementing the firefighter pay raises without requiring the layoffs that Mayor Sylvester Turner has said are impending in early April.
A spokesperson for District D Council Member Dwight Boykins, who proposed the amendment, said the revenue generated from the lowest fee would generate $88.9 million in revenue before factoring in exemptions for seniors and veterans.
A $27 fee would generate $126 million in revenue before factoring in exemptions for seniors and disabled veterans. The estimated cost to implement Proposition B pay raises amounts to $100 million per year, according to the mayor’s office.
All council members besides Boykins voted against the fees, and multiple council members said the fee would unfairly impact low-income residents in Houston.
“It doesn’t sustain a family's budget when they have decide between child care and a trash fee,” Council Member Jerry Davis said.
For higher-income residents, they may choose to pay for private trash collection instead, which would alter the estimated revenue, District G Council Member Greg Travis said.
“If [private trash collections in homeowners associations] are included, this makes zero money,” Travis said. “My homeowners association pays $15 to $18 for trash and recycling. ... Everybody is going to go private.”
In addition to most council members saying their constituents have told them they do not support the fees, some, including District J Council Member Mike Laster, said they question how the fee proposals made it onto the agenda as quickly as they did after Boykins announced them last week. The fees were added to the agenda following two consecutive council meetings during which Boykins "tagged" or delayed nearly all items on the agenda to force a conversation about Proposition B implementation plans.
“Typically when things come to us, they’ve been discussed, vetted, fretted over and at least gone through a committee or two,” Laster said.