Harris County $1.4 billion short on flood control projects that are part of bond voter’s approved after Harvey

Harris County officials say there trying to close a billion-dollar gap for the flood control projects that were designated after Hurricane Harvey.
Harris County officials say there trying to close a billion-dollar gap for the flood control projects that were designated after Hurricane Harvey.

More than two years after Harris County voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.5 billion flood control bond, the county announced Tuesday that it is $1.4 billion short.

Many of the hundreds of original projects remain unfinished, including in some of the most economically disadvantaged communities.

“Halls and Greens, the two poorest watersheds in the county -- they’re basically left out of the process,” said Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia in Commissioner’s Court.

“They flood every time,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

In a statement, Garcia blamed Texas officials for the shortfall. The county has requested $900 million in federal dollars through the state, which it may receive later this year.

“It doesn’t add up at all,” said former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. He was judge whe the bond was put on the ballot.

“Voters approved that bond issue,” he added. “They expect that money to be spent, and there’s no way you get to a $1.4 billion dollar gap the way that bond was structured.”

He said $1.6 billion of the bond was committed to county infrastructure projects, and only $900 million was meant to be matched by state donations of federal dollars.

“The commissioner’s court needs to fix it,” said State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Dist. 27).

“They need to reallocate resources from other places,” he added. “All the projects need to be done, or else the voters will never have confidence if the Commissioner’s Court asks them to do another bond.”

The court has until the end of the year to reallocate funding from other places before some unfinished flood control projects would be delayed.