At the April 28 regular meeting, the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court approved the membership structure of the Fort Bend CARES Act Distribution Advisory Committee. The list of the entities—provided by the county judge's office—is at the bottom of this story, and includes municipalities, school districts and law firms.
“Those entities are going to send their representatives,” County Judge KP George said. “I don’t have a specific persons' names at the moment.”
The committee will advise the court on how to spend $134.3 million for coronavirus relief, County Auditor Ed Sturdivant said.
“The primary general purpose of these local government assistance funds are to provide support to the local governments to respond to the impact of this pandemic,” Sturdivant said. “The county is responsible for the proper administration of these funds, ensuring they're distributed for only eligible uses.”
According to April 22 guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the funds must be used for COVID-19-related expenses. These can range from delivering food to residents to enable COVID-19 precaution compliance to purchasing technology to facilitate distance learning and telework capabilities.
Before the court discussed the committee, two members of the public including John Strader—who is a pastor at Missouri City’s Heritage Baptist Church—urged the court to consider reaching out to faith leaders and setting aside some of the coronavirus relief funds to rental assistance programs.
“I'm asking for the county to consider its faith leaders and organizations as a resource to help in any advisory committee,” Strader said. “They'll help with seeing the true issues of our county to be addressed by the CARES Act funds. I'm asking our county would enact a countywide rent moratorium that would help those directly affected by the effects of this emergency.”
The day after the court meeting, the Texas Supreme County extended an eviction moratorium through May 18. Additionally, the county has received about $1 million in funds to help prevent homelessness through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sturdivant said in an interview. The county is working through the processes to distribute the funds and will begin outreach efforts soon to find eligible residents who are in need of rental assistance.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers asked if members of the court could suggest local business owners for the committee. He also asked whether community members could join the committee.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales said more members could be added to the committee if needed, while George said local businesses will be represented by the Fort Bend Economic Development Council.
“With this structure we just wanted to eliminate any kind of political influence in this,” George said. “We are not taking any mayors or any elected members in this. I understand [your desire for] appointment[s], but the thing about it is, this is the structure we felt [would] best represent the interests of the county, not just the county [but also] the jurisdictions.”
At the April 21 special meeting, Sturdivant said the county would receive $141.6 million in a direct allotment. The funds decreased because the city of Houston elected to directly receive its funds for the approximately 40,000 city of Houston residents in Fort Bend County, Sturdivant said at the April 28 meeting.
Strudivant also reminded the court that the state of Texas is holding an additional $173.1 million from Fort Bend County’s allotment to distribute on behalf of the county, Sturdivant said.
“Criteria have not been disseminated to us on how those [funds] will be accessed,” Sturdivant said.
Here is the list of entities that will send a representative to the Fort Bend CARES Act Distribution Advisory Committee:
- City of Rosenberg
- City of Needville (to represent small cities)
- City of Missouri City
- City of Meadows Place
- City of Stafford
- City of Sugar Land
- City of Richmond
- City of Kendleton (to represent small cities)
- City of Pearland
- City of Simonton
- City of Katy
- City of Fulshear
- City of Weston Lakes
- Allen Boone Humphries Robinson LLP (to represent special districts)
- Coveler & Peeler PC (to represent special districts)
- Muller Law Group (to represent special districts)
- Coats Rose Law Firm (to represent special districts)
- Needville ISD
- Fort Bend ISD
- Brazos ISD
- Lamar CISD
- Stafford MSD
- Katy ISD
- Harmony Public Schools (to represent charter schools)
- OakBend Medical Center (to represent public hospitals)
- Fort Bend Economic Development Council (to represent businesses)
- Mental Health Authorities (to represent community centers)