This week, Fort Bend County Commissioners Court voted to call a Bond Election on November 5, 2019 to consider Fort Bend County Flood Projects. It took a lot of hard effort and a lot of united voices, but Commissioner Meyers is convinced that addressing our NEEDS over our WANTS is the right thing to do. The proposed bond amount totals $82,919,661.
A detailed breakdown of every single project is provided from the Fort Bend County Auditor here.
This bond is all about meeting the NEEDS of the community with a program that covers the costs of flood mitigation and repairing damages caused by years of historic flooding. Commissioner Meyers has long consider it to be the highest priority, and when we launched the Precinct Three survey, he was confident we would have community buy-in on our proposal for prioritizing flood mitigation.
With over 81% support from our 296 responses - Flood mitigation was the topic that drew the most public support. With that support in mind, Commissioners Court ultimately worked in agreement to change the focus of the bond program away from facilities/parks to flood mitigation. Commissioner Meyers particularly would like to thank Commissioner Vincent Morales and Commissioner Ken DeMerchant for heading up the long process of the review that led us to the final bond proposal. Their hard work is very appreciated.
A particular note to call attention to in this bond program - is the allotted $38.4 million dollars to provide local match amounts for federal hazard mitigation grants that are currently under review by the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) and FEMA. The total value of these project applications is $153.5 million, meaning that the county can potentially leverage $115.1 million in Federal dollars (75% of the costs) by guaranteeing $38.4 million (25% of the costs) in local match amounts through the bond.
As of today - TDEM has not yet announced to us or to any other county competing for those 75/25 grant funds, which of the 2019 project applications has made the cut. Therefore, any local match funds approved by Fort Bend County voters would only be accessed if there are successful federal grant funds approved through TDEM/FEMA. All projects which successfully make it through the TDEM application process have a time period to perform the engineering study and design that is then reviewed, approved, and permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This time period would also allow the county to make an application to the State of Texas for covering the costs of matching funds through the money pulled out of the state's Rainy Day Fund during the last legislative session – an opportunity to further reduce the amount needed from a county bond for the local match.
This November's ballot will also feature a state constitutional election that asks voters to weigh in on creating the mechanisms for the distribution of that state funding for local match amounts for flood mitigation, so there will be several opportunities for voters to make a decision about how to handle these proposals.
Many people have commented to Commissioner Meyers about the City of Sugar Land, and their decision to move forward in calling a Bond Election (a decision happening tonight (Wednesday 8/14/2019) at 5:00 PM in a special meeting of their City Council.) During our process and research, Commissioner Meyers reached out to Mayor Joe Zimmerman about his efforts to include flood mitigation in a county bond proposal and appreciates that the City of Sugar Land is also prioritizing their drainage and mitigation needs. One of the items that is broken down in the county’s flood mitigation project list, is the costs of the county-wide watershed study which will be completed next year. Commissioner Meyers is well aware that it takes regional solutions to address these problems, and is grateful for ongoing relationships with city and special district leaders across the county and state.
As always, Commissioner Meyers is available for any questions about the county's flood mitigation bond, and there will be opportunities for the public to learn more at a series of community meetings over the next few months. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions at 281-238-1400.