Efforts to address Houston’s flooding issues take a major step forward last weekend as Harris County now embarks on a long road ahead.
On Aug. 25, Harris County voters elected to pass the Harris County Flood Control District’s $2.5 billion bond aimed at more than 230 potential flood risk reduction projects throughout the county to address the city’s need for flood risk reduction, and the lack of funding that has stalled construction. More than 40 of the proposed projects are within Garden Oaks. Oak Forest, the Heights, and other local neighborhoods.
Nearly 152,000 voters from more than 1,000 precincts in Harris County turned out for last weekend’s bond election as the measure passed with flying colors. Nearly 86 percent of voters voted in favor of passing the bond.
“We are very excited that the voters have significantly enhanced the Flood Control District’s ability to address the flooding issues that impact Harris County by approving the issuance of up to $2.5 billion in bonds to help us implement more flood risk reduction projects in a shorter timeframe,” HCFCD Executive Director Russ Poppe said Saturday in response to the election results. “We intend to make immediate use of this opportunity.”
The next Harris County Commissioners Court agenda will include items to advance 14 flood risk reduction projects that are made possible by the new bond funding, and there will be more projects in the coming months.
“Harris County residents have put their trust in the Flood Control District and we plan to work extremely hard and efficiently to turn the financial resources made available as a result of this election into the reality of reduced flooding risks across Harris County,” Poppe said.
HCFCD says the full cost of the bond would be phased in over several years, and would not impact property tax bills all at once. The timing of individual projects will depend on factors such as environmental permitting and right-of-way acquisition, and the Harris County Budget Management Department estimates that the overall tax increase will be no more than two to three cents per $100 of home valuation. Most homeowners should see an increase of no more than 1.4 percent in their property tax.
Projects will be distributed throughout Harris County, under umbrellas of channel modification projects, regional storm water detention basins and more, along with home buy-outs in areas with the greatest risk of flooding. Bonds will be sold in increments over at least 10-15 years, as needed for the multiple phases of each project.