Tag Archive for: Precinct 3

Mark Your Calendar: Harris County Precinct 3 Budget Meeting

Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey and Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of Harris County’s Office of Management & Budget, will host a town-hall budget meeting to discuss next year’s budget.

Commissioner Ramsey urges you to attend and voice your opinions on how the county should address wasteful spending, save money, and prioritize next year’s budget. 

Why You Should Attend

Precinct 3 maintains nearly 47% of the county’s roadways, but only receives 25% of the general funds, and only received 17% of the 2022 Road and Park Bonds. 

Commissioner Ramsey expresses the need for the public to attend in order to understand how tax dollars are truly being spent. 

This meeting will let you voice your priorities on how Harris County should prioritize its responsibilities and spending of tax dollars. 

Meeting Details

WHEN: Monday, August 14th, 2023, 6 PM

WHERE: George H.W. Bush Community Center

6827 Cypresswood Dr., Spring, TX 77379

Q&A SESSION: Following presentations

Free Shuttle Service

The county will offer free shuttle service from the following Precinct 3 Community Centers. Space is limited. Pre-registration required. Call the community center to save your spot!

Barrett Station Community Center 

Departs at 3:45 PM 

Call (713) 274-2040 to register

Crosby Community Center

Departs at 4:15 PM 

Call (832) 927-7730 to register

May Community Center

Departs at 4:30 PM 

Call (713) 274-2434 to register

San Jacinto Community Center

Departs at 4:15 PM 

Call (713) 274-2860 to register

Trini Mendenhall Community Center

Departs at 4:30 PM

Call (713) 274-3200 to register

 County Responsibilities in Texas          

For reference, according to the Texas Association of Counties, responsibilities of Texas county government include:

  • Providing public safety and justice
  • Registering voters and holding elections at every level of government
  • Maintaining Texans’ most important records
  • Building and maintaining roads, bridges and in some cases, county airports
  • Providing emergency management, health, and safety services
  • Collecting property taxes for the county and sometimes for other taxing entities
  • Issuing vehicle registration and transfers

Harris County also offers libraries, parks, and other programs that add to the quality of life for residents. Many play a vital role in the economic development.

So learn more at the Town Hall. Join other concerned residents and let your voice be heard on how tax dollars should be prioritized and spent. I’ll be there. And I hope to comment about the distribution of flood bond money.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/5/2023

2067 Days since Hurricane Harvey

65% of Harris County Flood-Bond Projects that Lost Funding Are in Precinct 3

Harris County has put 37 of 93 subdivision drainage projects associated with the $2.5 billion 2018 Flood Bond on hold.

Reasons include:

  • Lack of funding
  • Inflation
  • Shortfalls in expected partner contributions
  • Constructibility of some projects
  • Social-vulnerability scores within the County’s Equity Prioritization Framework.

Of the 37 projects whose funding was cut, 24 were in Precinct 3 – a whopping 65 percent.

Technically, the projects have not been “cancelled.” The county has just run out of money to do them. But it has set no deadline for revisiting the projects on hold; is diverting HCTRA backstop funding for other uses; has articulated no other plan for raising additional funds; and is submitting projects for HUD funding that weren’t in the flood bond.

Here’s the explanation for the motion approved by Commissioner’s court on 2/21/23.

Did Your Project Get the Funding Ax?

The following three tables show the projects put on hold. (Note: six are duplicated between tables 2 and 3.)

Table One: Cuts based on feasibility and non-co-operating partners. Source: Harris County Commissioners Court.
Table 2: So-called Equity cuts. Source: Harris County Commissioners Court.
Table 3/Part A. More so-called Equity cuts, also approved by Commissioners Court.
Table 3/Part B.

Commissioners court cut funding for projects in all three tables.

Impact of SVI Threshold on Disproportionate Budget Cuts

The deciding factor in many cases was the area’s social vulnerability index (SVI), which measures English language fluency plus minority and ethnic concentrations.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Ramsey argued to lower the SVI requirement for these projects to 50%. That would have met HUD requirements and also meant fewer budget cuts for Precinct 3.

But his Democratic colleagues proceeded to set the threshold at 75%, resulting in the lopsided cuts. The chart below shows how dramatically that affected Equity Prioritization Index rankings in the tables above.

Ramsey Looking for Other Sources of Funding

Ramsey has been beating the bushes to find more money. Recently he got a commitment from Texas General Land Office Commissioner Dawn Buckingham to ensure $825 million in HUD funds going to Harris County Flood Control would be distributed equally among all precincts.

That should help fund several Precinct 3 projects and perhaps free up money for some of the subdivision drainage projects put on hold.

Drowning in the Semantic Wilderness

Ironically, even as others throw roadblocks in the way of Precinct 3 projects, HCFCD insists no projects will be cancelled.

Screen capture on 7/11/2023 from HCFCD webpage about the Equity Prioritization Framework as it applies to subdivision drainage projects.

But according to this motion, they will be paused, put on hold, and have their funding cut.

Harris County Engineering, Flood Control, Daniel Ramos from the Office of Management and Budget and the Harris County Toll Road Authority all recommended the funding cuts on 2/21/23.

Their rationale: It will provide funding certainty for the highest ranked projects using the Equity Prioritization Index and free up the Toll Road Funds for other uses. The toll road funds were backstopping bond funds.

The county made these recommendations even as it was planning to spend HUD dollars on projects NOT in the flood bond.

Unfortunately, six years after Harvey, no large pots of money remain out there dedicated to the storm. Ramsey has his work cut out for him against 4-1 odds.

Is Race-Based Funding Even Constitutional?

To justify the unequal cuts, the other three commissioners and county judge relied on complicated race-based formulas that favor minorities. Then they justified the funding cuts with the usual misleading “worst first” mantra when they aren’t even measuring actual flood damage.

The recent Supreme Court Ruling on Affirmative Action calls into question whether race-based funding is even constitutional.

I’m eager to hear from lawyers on the constitutionality of distributing billions of dollars on the basis of racial discriminators, such as SVI.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/11/23

2142 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.

Will Redistricting Affect Flood-Mitigation Priorities?

The recent redistricting of Harris County precincts could not have been more disruptive. More than half the county’s residents changed both precincts and commissioners. Can you say, “Tossed Salad”? It will take some time to work this out. In the meantime, “Many are asking how will new precinct boundaries affect flood-mitigation priorities?”

We’ve already seen how Commissioner Adrian Garcia tried to divert flood bond money from an area he was giving up in the redistricting process to one he was inheriting. That got voted down, but…

Priorities Already Altered Multiple Times in Past

We’ve also seen how Democrats re-ordered flood-bond priorities in 2019, shifted money from other budgets to accelerate projects in poor watersheds, and are suggesting another flood bond with new priorities based on so-called racial equity.

Officially, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) does not allocate flood-bond mitigation money by precinct. They allocate it by watershed and project – with the most money going to the most heavily flood-damaged areas.

But those who watch Commissioners Court regularly know that Commissioners control HCFCD priorities, and no project moves forward without their approval.

Lake Houston Dam Example

All this raises the question, “How will the re-alignment of Commissioner’s precincts re-align flood-mitigation priorities?”

For instance, the Lake Houston Dam was half in Precinct 1 and half in Precinct 2 both controlled by Democrats. But P2 Commissioner Garcia has given that area up. The east side of the dam will now be in Precinct 3 now controlled by Republican Tom Ramsey. Ramsey will now also control virtually all the homes around the lake with the exception of a small area in Summerwood. The flood bond allocated $20 million to help support expansion of the flood gates on Lake Houston (Project CI-028). How solid is that commitment now that Democrats have given up most of the area?

Across the county, from Cypress Creek to Armand Bayou, people have dozens of questions like that about projects affecting them. The answers will take time to sort out.

New High-Resolution Precinct Maps Finally Available

Until a few days ago, the lack of resolution and streets in redistricting maps made it difficult to tell exactly where the new precinct boundaries were.

But just last week, the Harris County Attorney posted a new high-resolution map showing new boundaries. The map also shows major streets and voting precincts (in addition to the county precincts).

The biggest changes happened on the north side of the County where Commissioner Adrian Garcia staged a strategic retreat from Republican voters to bolster his re-election chances. Also, Precincts 3 and 4 switched positions. P3 formerly on the west side of the county is now on the north and east sides. And Precinct 4, formerly on the north and east sides is now mostly on the west and north sides.

The plan, designed and approved by Democrats, will force Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey to run for re-election in areas where they are relatively little known – unless they want to move their residences. Commissioner Rodney Ellis carefully drew district boundaries so that Cagle and Ramsey would no longer live in precincts they once represented. And by law, Commissioners must live in the precinct they represent.

Ramsey and Cagle will now have whole new watersheds to learn.

Watershed Boundaries Not Yet Shown on New Precinct Map

Unfortunately, the new high-res precinct map does not show watershed boundaries, although it shouldn’t be hard to create one – for someone with better Photoshop skills than mine!

At the moment, to see how your watershed could be affected, compare two maps side by side.

The latter shows watershed boundaries if you click on the Watershed button in the left-hand column.

Most of the Lake Houston Area including Huffman, Kingwood, Humble (east of Bush Intercontinental Airport), Atascocita, Crosby and Spring will now be in Precinct 3 with Commissioner Tom Ramsey.

New Precincts adopted by Harris County Commissioners Court in 2021. Click link for high res map.

To learn more about redistricting and your new commissioner, visit the landing pages for Harris County Precinct 3 or Harris County Precinct 4.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/15/2021

1539 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.