Major Astrodome Decision
The Astrodome's fate is on you: Tax increase plan to save Dome to be put in front of voters
"All those who care about the Dome, go forth. This is where it begins."
So stated Harris County Judge Ed Emmett after Harris County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Tuesday to place a proposal to issue $217 million in bonds to renovate the Astrodome before voters. The Commissioners Court vote came in a packed room with six TV cameras, testament to how much the fate of this icon fallen into disrepair has gripped the city.
When the Astrodome item appears on a ballot this November, voters will be asked to grant commissioners the authority to issue bonds and levy a tax to pay for them.
The owners of a house worth $200,000 would pay approximately $8 more per year in taxes as a result.
A representative from the Public Infrastructure Division estimated that the required tax increase would be about $0.005 per $100 of assessed value, although the final number won't be known until the bonds are issued in 2015. The owners of a house worth $200,000 would pay approximately $8 more per year in taxes as a result.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack briefly delayed the vote to request that the ballot indicate that the tax increase will happen rather than that the commissioners shall levy the tax if the item passes. A representative from the Harris County Attorney's office objected on two grounds. First, that any alteration of the statutorily required language might cause the Texas Attorney General's office to prohibit the county from issuing the bonds. Second, that the mandatory "will" might limit future commissioners from acting at their own discretion, which is authority they are traditionally granted.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Mormon agreed with Radack and encouraged the County Attorney to "look at further language" that would make the tax increase explicit and still pass muster with the Attorney General. County Judge Ed Emmett agreed, saying "Voters need to know this vote will result in a tax increase."
Prior to the vote, Mormon stated that, whether he agrees or disagrees with the proposal, "voters get to decide this issue."
After the vote passed, Emmett told the assembled crowd that the current proposal is "not a convention center. It will preserve the Dome for future use."
The project has been touted as "The New Dome Experience." In unveiling the plan in June, Reliant Park officials touted that the renovated Astrodome's interior could be easily reconfigured to accommodate swim meets, graduations and other community events, football games, conventions and more.