Outgoing Mayor Annise Parker will bring before council seven potential board members for confirmation for the newly formed Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ). Out of those seven one is former mayoral candidate and outgoing council member Stephen Costello, and another is Ann Katherine Hubbard, Mayor Annise Parker’s wife.

The only requirements of TIRZ board members are to be a registered voter in that municipality or be older than 18 and own property within the TIRZ boundaries. There doesn’t seem to be anything prohibiting political allies and family from being appointed. So while Parker’s latest appointments may not be against the law, they certainly serve more of a personal interest than they are a service to the taxpayers.

Parker’s big-government hegemony and devotion to keeping the revolving door of public service open for her friends and family has come to be one of the many themes of her administration.

Costello who, with Parker, ushered in the rain tax, has a vested interested in developments across the city because of his large engineering firm. Hubbard, a tax servicer, likely has garnered the appointment to help retain Parker’s seat at the table in how redevelopment decisions are made around the city.

The purpose of a TIRZ is to capture tax dollars, that would otherwise go to the city’s general fund for the purpose of reinvesting on infrastructure improvements within the zone’s boundaries

The Montrose zone is the 27th TIRZ within Houston. The overall program is questionable —with little oversight and unelected board members choosing where to redirect tax dollars. A program that was intended to revitalize blighted inner-city areas has turned into no more than a slush fund for appointed bureaucrats to pursue million dollar projects without voter approval.

Although Parker is on her way out of city hall Houstonians shouldn’t expect her to be silent for long. “The greatest power is not money power, but political power,” after all.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.