The big question surrounding the future of the Astrodome

By Jake Reiner - Reporter

HOUSTON - The big question surrounding the Astrodome is whether or not Harris County should be able to use money it already has to do a project it's already approved or should the voters have a say?

Channel 2 spoke with people on both sides of the issue.

"I definitely feel like it should be left up to the public," said Toni Fisher, who lives in Houston.

Senate Bill 884 moved out of committee Monday, and if it passes, the measure would force the county to put the Dome renovation plan on the November ballot.

Judge Ed Emmett contends the county shouldn’t have to ask voters to approve the plan to create 1,400 parking spots and an open green space. He argues the county can spend the money it has, however it wants.

Channel 2 met Oscar Capetillo with his family at the Houston Rodeo. Reporter Jake Reiner asked him: How do you feel about Harris County using money it already has to put this project into place?

"Well if it already has the money, I'd be fine with it," Capetillo said.

The county has the $105 million ready to go. A third of that money is taxpayer dollars.

"Unlike the 2013 Astrodome referendum, the county’s planned Astrodome renovations would require absolutely no bond issue, no debt and no tax increase. As such, voter approval would not be required," Emmett said in a written statement Tuesday.

"I still would think they'd have to ask the voters, as far as on the approval, because it still the money that comes from taxes," Capetillo said.

The Texas Historical Commission would also need to approve any work, like demolition, for example. So what about other county buildings? Should voters approve those renovation projects too? It’s a point Emmett makes.

"It could become pretty tedious," Capetillo said, referring to getting voters' approval for anything the county wants to renovate.

"I think something as historic as the Astrodome, I definitely think the public should have some say so in it," Fisher said.

SB 884 still needs to full vote of the Senate and eventually the House.

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