Fort Bend County considering flood mitigation instead of facilities for November bond election

This November, Fort Bend County residents may head to the polls to vote on flood projects instead of upgrading facilities.

At the Aug. 1 special session of the Commissioners Court, Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales and Precinct 4 Ken DeMerchant recommended the county place a $62.4 million bond referendum on the November ballot for a single proposition related to flood mitigation and defer the $98.6 million bond for facility projects to a later time.

The newly proposed bond would fund the county’s local match for federally funded projects to address damages from the 2015, 2016 and Hurricane Harvey floods, Morales said. The $62.4 million would allow the county to leverage about $233 million in flood projects using matching funds from federal sources.

This decision to change the facilities bond into a flood mitigation bond was prompted by discussions with residents, homeowners associations, city mayors and other Fort Bend County constituents, Morales and DeMerchant said. Morales added that with a challenging fiscal year 2020 budget, the county needs to focus on needs rather than wants.

"I don’t think right now facilities, buildings, are really important to our constituents at this point," he said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers and Precinct 2 Commissioner Gary Prestage—who attended the meeting via video conference—asked that the court consider increasing the bond amount to about $70 million or more for contingencies and other projects pursued by the Fort Bend County Drainage District that may require funding sources other than taxes.

However, Meyers pointed out that in the long run, the final bond figure may be lower. This is because about $1.5 billion will be doled out to Hurricane Harvey-impacted communities from a series of flood-mitigation bills signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. Fort Bend County may receive some of those funds, which would lower the county's share.

Another reason the final bond price may be lower is because about $38 million of the proposed bond is allocated to projects that have not been approved by the state for federal grants, Meyers added. If these projects are not approved, then the county will not spend the allocated bond money to fund the projects.

Judge KP George said he supports the changes in the proposed bond referendum but inquired about the future of the Office of Emergency Management building, one of the factors that prompted the county to look into a facilities bond.

Meyers and Morales said the judge should resubmit the item for discussion at a future court date. The commissioners did not discuss expanding the juvenile detention center in Richmond, a proposed facilities bond project which is mandated by new laws.

The court has until Aug. 19 to call an election. The last regular session of the court before that date is Aug. 13.
By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jen has written about business, politics and education. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.


MOST RECENT

Here are the latest coronavirus updates for Fort Bend County. (Courtesy Fort Bend County)
Fort Bend County confirms 49 coronavirus cases May 29, highest single-day total since early May

Missouri City now has more than 300 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center sees another week-over-week decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29.

The Willie's Grill & Icehouse restaurant in Copperfield is temporarily closed after reopening in mid-May. (Courtesy Willie's Grill & Icehouse Copperfield)
Study predicts coronavirus spike and other top Houston-area stories

Read some of the most popular Houston-area content on Community Impact Newspaper’s website from this week.

The syrup drums being repurposed into rain barrels were donated from Coca-Cola. (Courtesy Galveston Bay Foundation)
Galveston Bay Foundation to host virtual, drive-thru rain barrel workshop

The Kemah-based nature conservation nonprofit is hosting a rain barrel workshop this weekend for Houstonians thirsting for a way to help conserve the community’s water supply.

To help its economy recover from COVID-19, Sugar Land’s economic development department plans to implement a marketing campaign in mid-June referred to as #AllInForSLTX. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Sugar Land to launch #AllInForSLTX campaign to stimulate economy in response to COVID-19

About 92% of businesses surveyed in Sugar Land experienced a decline in business due to COVID-19.

Fort Bend County Judge KP hosted a discussion on Facebook Live with officials from the Kinder Institute and Fort Bend County Health and Human Services about how the results of the COVID-19 Registry will be used. (Courtesy Fort Bend County)
Fort Bend County officials to use COVID-19 Registry to guide coronavirus response

Here is how you can join the COVID-19 Registry and shape Fort Bend County's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Texas Renaissance Festival is set to resume Oct. 3 with safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy Texas Renaissance Festival)
Texas Renaissance Festival announces tentative modifications for 2020 season

In a May 28 statement, General Manager Joseph Bailey said new safety measures are in the works to comply with governmental recommendations, and an operating plan is expected to be reviewed with officials in June.

Missouri City City Council met for a special meeting May 26. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
With latest action, Missouri City City Council votes down community survey in search for city manager

The results of the survey would have helped council identify issues and priorities to consider when selecting the next city manager.

Health officials in Fort Bend County confirmed 17 new coronavirus cases May 28. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Sugar Land, Missouri City each see 5 new coronavirus cases May 28

There were 17 new coronavirus cases reported in Fort Bend County on May 28, bringing the county total to 1,783 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Students enrolled in the University of Houston College of Nursing can take classes at the Sugar Land campus. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: UH College of Nursing dean reflects on how coronavirus has affected education, profession

Kathryn Tart, dean of the University of Houston’s College of Nursing, spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about how the novel coronavirus is changing the way the university is educating nursing students.

Houston Methodist researchers conducted a 25-patient trial in March and April to examine the safety of convalescent plasma transfusions as a possible treatment for COVID-19. (Courtesy Houston Methodist)
Greater Houston-area health systems examine plasma transfusion as possible COVID-19 treatment

The experimental therapy involves the transfer of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to those who are currently symptomatic.