Bond package would provide $2.5 billion for flood mitigation projects
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Commissioners Court approved and set a $2.5 billion Flood Control District Bond Election on August 25. The passage of this bond proposal is absolutely critical to improving resiliency and helping our industry continue to grow in the Houston region.
If it passes, these dollars will go directly to fund local flood mitigation projects, including increased bayou conveyance, strategic property buyouts, additional detention, desilting drainage channels and right of way acquisition to preserve natural floodplains.
In addition, the bonds will help provide the required local matching dollars for federal funds that have already been appropriated. These funds can and will help pay for major mitigation projects to reduce flooding and strengthen our communities. With $2.5 billion in bond funds, Harris County’s goal is to leverage federal funds to create $10 billion in resiliency projects.
How Much will it Cost?
While all Harris County residents can agree that our region needs major flood improvement projects, the question is how to fund it. Most homeowners would accept a small increase in property taxes to help realize actual flood relief, but some will be opposed to any degree of tax increase.
According to the Harris County Budget Office, the owner of a home valued at the county average, which is about $200,000, would pay about $5 in additional taxes in 2020 and that would increase to an additional $50 in 2035, the final year of the tax increase.
What Projects will be Done?
With the increased revenue from the passage of this bond package and the recently acquired $4.5 billion in federal dollars specifically for flood projects in our region, the Harris County Flood Control District will have the long needed cash infusion to resume and begin dozens of projects that will benefit hundreds of thousands of homeowners in our region.
That said, it will not be enough to fully protect us from all future flooding. Let’s face it, Houston has always flooded and will continue to flood. But this is a considerable start to help make our region significantly more resilient.
Once the funding structure is in place there will naturally be pushback on what projects are initiated and where and when those occur. Harris County leadership anticipated this and has been proactively engaging the community within each of the county’s 23 watersheds to solicit resident feedback on flood control needs.
The county held a series of meetings with residents starting in June to review more than 150 potential projects that are candidates for bond funding. After gathering community input, the county finalized its list of potential bond projects on August 1.
The GHBA is a founding member of Houston Stronger, which is a coalition of development stakeholders from around our region. The purpose of the group has been to push for the bond election and educate both elected officials and the public about the need for major flood improvement projects in the Houston area.
Since the bond election was set, a public awareness campaign began to get out the vote in favor of the proposition in August.
Judge Emmett formed the Fight Flooding PAC specifically to fund this campaign. It is a comprehensive, countywide political type campaign, with grassroots outreach, mail, TV buys, digital strategies, etc. He tasked the development community with helping raise some of the money necessary to get this bond package across the finish line.
As a leader of Houston Stronger, the GHBA and our member companies have been integral in raising money for this effort and advocating for the passage of this proposal.
Involvement from our industry is vital to show that we are committed to making this region safer from future flooding and ensuring we remain an area where families and businesses want to call home.
Election Day is August 25, but mail-in ballots for those 65 and older have already been distributed. Early Voting runs August 8 through August 21.
During Early Voting, you can vote at any of the 45 voting locations around the county. On Election Day you can only vote at your voting precinct. Since this is a special election, many precincts will be consolidated, so please check harrisvotes.com for information about your specific voting location.
It cannot be overstated how crucial the bond passage is for the homebuilding industry in our region. We encourage every member that lives in Harris County to vote in favor of Proposition A. This will be the only thing on the ballot and voter apathy could easily doom this election.
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