On Jan. 31, Harris County Commissioners granted $64.8 million in trust funding to the Harris County Flood Control District to be used for 2018 flood bond projects, while also asking the district to prioritize using existing funding for the projects.

HCFCD is currently looking at a $667 million gap between the cost of projects that have been planned under its 2018 bond program and the money remaining for these projects, HCFCD Director Tina Petersen said. This gap is due to “cost escalation” and is likely to increase, she said.

“[A] $667 million gap is not insignificant, and I ... would ask [HCFCD] to come back with a plan and tell us how we're going to approach the bond with the existing resources we have,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said during the Jan. 31 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting.

Commissioners unanimously granted HCFCD access to $64.8 million in funding from the Harris County Flood Resilience Trust, which was created in June 2021 to help with HCFCD’s funding gap for the 2018 bond. At the time, HCFCD had a $1.3 billion gap between funding obtained and funding needed, largely due to expected partner funds falling through.

So far, HCFCD has completed 25 projects under the 2018 bond program and closed two because the district “was not able to identify any benefits,” Petersen said.

During the Jan. 31 meeting, commissioners also tasked HCFCD with returning to court with a plan for completing the remaining projects with the funds currently available to HCFCD. The motion passed asked HCFCD to take a “worst-first” approach to the projects and to consider equity, Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

“What this is gonna do is force the issue of prioritization, that we're going to complete some projects. ... This motion means we’re going to do what we can do with what we’ve got,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey said.

HCFCD’s 2018 bond was passed by voters on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey and included a total of $2.5 billion in funding for flood reduction projects countywide.

Hannah Brol contributed to this report.