Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the history of a drainage fee that was previously rejected by the city council.

Pearland Mayor Kevin Cole gave a speech at a State of the City event where he focused on the latest developments in the city’s infrastructure and economy.


Cole discussed recent moves to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure, particularly the $535 million in new construction and alterations going into effect as soon as this year. He said these improvements, which include a new water treatment plant and a major expansion of the city’s wastewater facilities, are critical for meeting the growing city’s demand for clean water.

“We don't want to be the next Jackson, Mississippi,” Cole said. “Even though our growth is slowing, we are a growing city, and in a lot of this ... in water and wastewater as well as some of the other capital projects ... it's catch-up time.”

In addition to a growing demand for updated water infrastructure, Cole touted the city’s moves to improve walkability, drainage and parks, all of which will be featured as propositions in the prospective May bond. Cole said the city is moving forward with its Clear Creek Trail project, while acknowledging that walkability is not confined to trails.

“Walkability could be just the sidewalk in front of your house. ... We want to fast-track expanding our sidewalk system and filling in the gaps,” Cole said. “In fact, for our people in the Lower Kirby area, we have a trail system that will come all the way up and down on what they call the TxDOT ditch. We're looking to complete that project here very soon.”

Cole also said the Ed Thompson Inclusive Playground project is expected to be completed soon, without giving exact details on its opening date.

In terms of drainage, Cole said one of the primary reasons the city moved forward with a 2023 drainage bond was to replace a previous drainage fee concept that would have billed residents monthly to pay for drainage improvement projects. The fee concept did not garner enough support from the council since its members preferred to allow citizens to select which drainage projects they wanted to see completed rather than the council deciding.

“Be involved, get involved,” Cole said. “Be informed of the various components that make up this bond program. ... May elections usually get about 10% turnout; presidential elections get about 65 to 70%. Big difference, so be prepared, be informed and vote.”


Cole said the latest water infrastructure improvements will lead to increases in utility rates for residents. He mentioned a possibility that the council will consider a minimum utility rate increase to keep these taxes from spiking too high.

The city projects that the city will continue to increase rates overall by 16%, 19%, 15% and 8% in each of the following years, differing based on usage and meter size, to pay for the major infrastructure projects.

Finally, Cole addressed the property tax evaluation worksheet error from the Harris Central Appraisal District that lead to a deficit, incorrect tax rates and the firing of the city manager at the time.

Cole said the city is about to initiate its search for a new city manager after hiring a consultant and search firm. He also said the city will select a consulting group to assist in figuring out where mistakes were made during the tax evaluation process at the next City Council meeting Feb. 13.

“We want to make sure that we have the best person for the 130,000 people that call Pearland home,” Cole said.