Tag Archive for: Harris Country Commissioners Court

Right a Wrong – Fix Bait-and-Switch Bond Allocation

Item 418 on today’s Commissioners Court Agenda reads, “Request by the Commissioner of Precinct 3 [Tom Ramsey, PE] for discussion and possible action on the allocation of the Harris County 2022 Road and Park Bonds.” What’s that about?

Before the election, Commissioners court voted to allocate a minimum of $220 million to each precinct. The County then trumpeted that on its website AND at community meetings. But shortly after the election, that all changed. (See photos, screen captures below.)

Now, according to the formula adopted by Commissioners, Precinct 3 gets $32 million less than the minimum – while other precincts get up to $70 million more.

Yet Precinct 3 has 47% of the county’s roads and 35% of its parks to maintain. 

But forget about fairness; the FTC calls this “bait and switch.” 

In a commercial context, promising something you don’t deliver is fraudulent.

I expected better of the county’s highest elected officials.

Please Commissioners, deliver what you promised. Vote to right this wrong today.

$220 million minimum guarantee
Handout at pre-election Bond Meeting at Humble Civic Center
The $222 million promise
The County’s $222 million promise, still evident on 2/2/23 before the vote to change the promise.
Minium $220 million
Screen capture from County’s bond website, before the switcheroo.
Allocation today.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/31/2023

2254 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Harris County Commissioners Supplement Flood-Bond Funds with Highway Money to Accelerate Mitigation

Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners Court voted 5-0 to transfer $315 million of toll road revenue, unallocated County road bonds and other county funds to accelerate the construction of certain flood-bond mitigation projects. They will allocate the funds to mitigation projects using the 2018 Flood Bond Prioritization Criteria.

The transfer will provide backstop funding for 100% of the projects in the Road & Bridge Subdivision Drainage Program of the 2018 Flood Control Bond Program, removing the risk that partner-funding shortfalls prevent projects from being completed.

Text of Motion

The final language as amended and approved reads as follows:

Create a new funding facility of $115 million, made up of County road bonds or HCTRA surplus revenue, to free up Flood Control bond capacity currently used for the Subdivision Program.  The Flood Control bond capacity will be allocated by utilizing the 2018 Flood Bond prioritization criteria.

Create an additional funding facility of $200 million, comprised of HCTRA surplus revenue or other County resources, to support completion of projects that are part of the 2018 bond program with the required transportation nexus.

Here is a background sheet from the county’s budget management department that explains the switch.

The Subdivision Program consists of 91 projects which, according to HCFCD estimates, reduce the risk of flooding to more than 45,000 homes.


The projects benefit neighborhoods with outdated drainage infrastructure or which never had modern drainage systems in the first place. Furthermore, multiple projects are located in watersheds that have been historically disadvantaged in securing federal funds for flood control. According to the Office of the County Engineer, the Subdivision Program has a current estimated total cost of $535 million (or ~$590 million including an approximately 10% contingency).

Among the objectives:

  • Provide backstop funding for partnership projects in case grants don’t materialize or are delayed beyond a reasonable time
  • Let projects with mature or advanced partner funding opportunities pursue those opportunities for a defined (but not unlimited) period of time..

The background sheet contains a list of eligible projects in each precinct. Any Subdivision Program project costs that have not received a notice or award of partner funding by August 31, 2021, would be eligible to receive additional money from the backstop funding.


Discussion on the motion and amendment lasted about an hour. It became clear that commissioners believe they:

  • Must complete all projects in the bond.
  • Expect not to find partnership funds for some projects, leaving those projects underfunded.
  • Need more money.
  • Must use diverted funds on flood projects that have some connection to transportation, i.e., problems created by new highway construction.
This approval will remove a cloud of uncertainty from projects that rely on partnership funding which has not yet materialized for some projects.

Including projects from all four precincts helped ensure a unanimous vote.

Another Bond? Not So Fast

Commissioners talked about the possibility of another flood-bond offering. However, the likelihood of that passing is slim. Poor people feel the money is going to affluent neighborhoods and affluent people feel the money is going to poor neighborhoods. If no one is happy with the way the current bond money has been handled, why would anyone vote to approve more?

Commissioners have grappled for more than a month with how to handle a possible shortfall in partner funding. Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis threatened to slow down or halt all flood-bond projects until Flood Control found a way to fully fund projects in Halls and Greens Bayous. Today’s development, seemed to avoid that showdown.

Flood Control will try to collapse a ten-year timeline down to five years.

It’s unclear at this time how today’s development will affect HUD grants in the pipeline, the interest costs on borrowed money, or the availability of qualified contractors.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/28/2021

1338 Days since Hurricane Harvey