Harris County launches education, input campaign for flood bond measure

HOUSTON – Harris County leaders will spend the next three months educating and getting input from the public about a proposed bond aimed at paying for flood control measures.

County Judge Ed Emmett and Russ Poppe, the Harris County Flood Control District’s executive director, broadly discussed the plan for the money raised by the bond program.

The campaign of education and input begins June 5 with a series of meetings in each of the county’s watersheds. The 23 meetings will conclude on Aug. 1.  Emmett said, "Some people like to talk about cost/benefit analysis and all that, we're all focused on how can we get the most people out of harms' way.  That's our bottom line."

Poppe said the projects that officials hope to include in the plan range from volunteer home buyouts to wetlands to repairing damage to existing flood control infrastructure caused by Hurricane Harvey to improvements to the county’s flood warning system.  He said, "Part of this bond proposal will be making sure we have funding available to make sure we don't miss out on a federal funding opportunity because we didn't have a local match."

Emmett said the projects would not be able to include any work to the Addicks and Barker reservoirs because those are federally managed projects.

Emmett said that the price tag of the bond program is not finalized, the amount being discussed by many is upward of $2.5 billion. That amount would trigger matching federal funds for some projects.

The county relies on property taxes to back the bonds, which would be sold over a 15-year period, Emmett said.

He said homeowners would likely see a gradual increase in property taxes over that time, averaging 1.4 percent.

Emmett said that while leaders have their list of projects, the final list will be determined after the meetings with the public.

People who cannot attend the meetings can also submit their input via a special section established on the website for the Harris County Flood Control District at hcfcd.org/bond-program.

Ultimately, the voters will decide the issue during a special election on Aug. 25 – the one-year anniversary of Harvey’s landfall.

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