No community consensus after several additional days of comments / petition gathering.
FORT BEND COUNTY - During the community meeting of residents and landowners within the Jones Creek watershed on Saturday, March 15th at the Pct. 3 J.P. Courtroom, citizens both for and against the creation or development of a Jones Creek Flood Control District requested additional time to solicit letters from the community. After a full week, it is evident that no consensus exists in the community to support creation of the district. As was promised by State Representative Dr. John Zerwas and County Commissioner Andy Meyers during the meeting, HB 4011 will no longer be pursused by Dr. Zerwas and it will not proceed further into committee hearings. This effectively kills the bill, and all county officials are in agreement with Dr. Zerwas that no further action will proceed for creation of any proposed Jones Creek district.
In January 2019, Fort Bend County made applications to the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to seek federal hazard mitigation grants for unincorporated communities who experienced significant damages from flooding over the last five years. An application was submitted for the Jones Creek watershed and is under TDEM review. Any such federal grants under the program, requires a 75% / 25% split between federal funding and the local match.
"The efforts to secure federal flood mitigation funding will continue because these residents have ongoing and immediate needs to help protect their homes and property," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers. "As has been discussed in multiple public meetings since 2017, there are avenues available for funding these mitigation projects and current TDEM applications require a 25% local match. In securing a local match, most Fort Bend County citizens have three boxes that are checked off - 1) the possibility of the State Legislature making an appropriation, 2) the possibility of a countywide flood bond, or 3) funds from a special district. In the last week, the community residents I've heard from can only agree on checking off the first two boxes. I promised that I would only support this bill if there was consensus and there is not. HB 4011 will not proceed under any format and the County will continue pursuit of the TDEM application working towards covering a potential local match via the state or county if the application is successful."
With over 300 special districts and the large number of cities and municipalities in Fort Bend County, it is particularly difficult for the 6% of residents in unincorporated Fort Bend County who do not live in a city or a special district, to compete with the same voice and resources that special districts can utilize. However, as Commissioner Meyers and Representative Zerwas stated in the public meeting, there are several options and parallel tracks available to communities in seeking federal and state grants for flood hazard mitigation. The decision to create a flood control district and issue debt for the local match is one option used across the majority of Fort Bend County. Such a district would have required local voter approval to create and any bonded indebtedness by that district would have required a public vote in an identical process to existing special districts in the county.
Meyers said, "We have listened to a lot of passionate residents on both sides of this topic since Saturday. Since the bill notice was publicly filed, Dr. Zerwas' office had received a 30 to 1 response from residents in favor of HB 4011. During the last week, the number of opposing residents outweighed those in support as both sides of the topic weighed in. I know that they’ve contacted Dr. Zerwas’ capitol office in Austin, and after giving out my cell phone number at the meeting, I and my staff have personally talked with even more residents, many of which couldn't be at the meeting. There is no consensus, and without it, the legislative creation of a district won't happen. Residents still need help and protection from future events, so the county will continue seeking federal hazard mitigation funding through the TDEM application, and we will continue to pursue a state appropriation to help cover the local match should our application be successful."
"Our citizens in the unincorporated area deserve to have their ongoing flooding issues addressed in a meaningful and transparent way. The ability of homeowners who are outside of cities and districts, to compete against the large developer-controlled special districts, is becoming an increasing problem to address with the exploding growth and population. My office continues to look for sources of funding and legislation to support their needs and protect their homes and property."
For questions / inquiries – contact Commissioner Andy Meyers, Precinct 3 – 281.238.1400 - email@example.com