Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved the final list of projects in the $2.5 billion flood bond referendum that will go before voters Aug. 25.
Early voting on the measure began last week and continues until Aug. 21.
Although commissioners did not discuss the projects during the meeting, Judge Ed Emmett said afterward the county plans to tackle all of the items on the list in the next 10-15 years.
“The money has to be used on flood control projects, but we’re careful not to prioritize in any way because we want to do them as soon as they’re available,” Emmett said. “It probably adds up to more than 2.5 [billion dollars], so we’ll have to make sure that over the years we work through that entire list.”
The project list, developed by Harris County Flood Control District over the summer with input from residents in each of the county’s 23 watersheds, includes items such as right-of-way acquisition, drainage improvements and work to improve water flow along creeks and other waterways.
Emmett said the county is not limited to using bond money to address the projects on the list, and if revenue becomes available from other sources it can also be used to make the needed improvements.
“We just have to do it, we don’t have to use the bond,” Emmett said. “It’s a question of how the county commissioners choose to budget over a 10-15 year period. The 2.5 [billion]takes care of the vast majority of it.”
A resident speaking on the issue said he believes county officials must act to prevent flooding events like that which occurred last year during Hurricane Harvey,
“It’s important that the flood control bond pass,” he said. “It’s very important the commissioners court step up and do something different from what we’ve been doing, because in the last few years it hasn’t gone in the right direction.”
Racial violence memorial approved
Among other business on the agenda unrelated to the bond referendum, commissioners approved placement of a memorial marker produced by the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice acknowledging four instances of racial violence in Harris County.
The markers would be similar to the large metal monuments installed at the national memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and they would be placed at a single location in the county, Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said.
A representative of the Harris County Community Remembrance Project spoke at the meeting to describe the purpose of the memorials.
“This will allow Harris County to commemorate and acknowledge that there have been at least four instances of racially motivated lynching that occurred in Harris County between Reconstruction and World War II,” she said.
A location for the memorials has not yet been determined, Ellis said.
“I think … some central location, maybe somewhere in the courthouse complex,” he said.