“Since the last workshop, I went back and took a fresh look at everything to see where I could find opportunities to tighten things down to feel better about the numbers,” said Jamie Knight, Fort Bend County's facilities management and planning director.
During a July 18 meeting, the Commissioners Court convened to discuss the outlined projects ahead of the Aug. 19 deadline to call for a bond election.
“First and foremost, we need this court to start to move toward making some final decisions,” County Auditor Ed Sturdivant said during the meeting. “Time is running short.”
Initially, the proposed bond called for $247.3 million for 17 facilities projects with $100 million earmarked for the federal disaster recovery match for flood projects countywide. However, in a sparser version of the bond presented July 18, the package totals $98.6 million, without the $100 million allotted for flood mitigation.
Taral Patel, the chief of staff to County Judge KP George, said in an email is it unknown at this point whether the commissioners could propose a separate flood bond in the future.
Now, the most expensive project on the list is the $30.4 million juvenile detention center that will result in an expansion and renovation of the existing campus to bring the facility up to modern standards and accommodate growth, according to county documents.
The current facility is 26 years old and has roughly 60,000 square feet of space to accommodate an average daily population of 50 juveniles. The facility has held up to 72 juveniles, and that number is expected to increase, county officials shared during the meeting.
The updated facility would have a capacity for 100 juveniles with 101,000 additional square feet of space. House Bill 22, known as the “Raise the Age” bill, was passed in 2017 and increases the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18, moving 17-year-old offenders to juvenile detention centers beginning in 2021, county officials said.
The commissioners are slated to vote on whether to place to bond on the Nov. 5 election ballot during the Aug. 6 meeting.
Here is the latest list of proposed projects for the bond in order from most expensive to least expensive:
Juvenile Detention Expansion: $30.4 million
Precinct 2 projects: $25.5 million
Emergency Management Center/Fire Marshal/HazMat facility: $16.9 million
Precinct 4 Annex: $6 million
Parks: $6 million
Elections Administration Building: $5.7 million
Emergency Medical Services improvements: $3.2 million
Education and exhibit building/passive nature park: $2.7 million
Fairgrounds offices: $2.1 million
Animal services campus: $100,000
TOTAL: $98.6 million