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Harris County bond proposal gets the OK

June 12th, 2018

Harris County Commissioners Court voted June 12 to place a $2.5 billion bond proposal on the Aug. 25 ballot, asking voters to finance a 10- to 15-year program of flood mitigation projects that include drainage improvements, upgraded warning systems, infrastructure repairs, home buyouts, and construction of more detention basins.

County Judge Ed Emmett said the goal of the bond issue is to speed up a host of projects that ultimately will provide greater protection for county residents and their property.

“After a series of catastrophic floods in recent years, Harris County residents rightly expect major improvements in the way we protect our homes and residents from disaster,” Emmett said. “We must take steps now to make our county more resilient. We all saw the way that Texans helped Texans during the Memorial Day floods of 2015, the Tax Day floods of 2016 and Hurricane Harvey last year. Now is our chance to work together to protect each other proactively.”

The county’s Budget Management Department has estimated that, if passed, the bond issue would result in an overall tax rate increase of 2-3 cents per $100 assessed valuation – meaning that most homeowners would see an increase of no more than 1.4 percent in their property tax after all bonds were sold. (Homeowners with an over-65 or disabled exemption and a home assessed at $200,000 or less would pay no additional taxes.)

The Harris County Flood Control District has begun planning and scheduling a series of 23 “community engagement” meetings — one in each county watershed — to present proposed projects and to solicit public input on other potential flooding solutions in each area. The proposed project list, information about community engagement meetings and an online comment form are all available on the “Bond Program” website at www.hcfcd.org/bondprogram.

County’s Changing Role With City, State Presenting New Challenges, Emmett Says

February 13th, 2015

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County Judge Ed Emmett

State of County Attendees Also Treated To Astrodome Visit, Where Emmett Renews Call For ‘Visionary’ Park Concept

As Harris County’s top officials take on an increasingly wide range of social problems, County Judge Ed Emmett called for state officials to allow local authorities more flexibility to manage the constantly changing face of the state’s most urban county.

“The population of unincorporated Harris County will soon surpass the population of the City of Houston,” Emmett said. “Yet people and organizations continue to discuss urban issues only in terms of the city. Harris County needs policymakers and agencies in Austin and Washington to recognize that our residents need a different approach than that applied to rural counties and to urban counties in which the vast majority of people live in incorporated cities.”

And with the county, the state and the nation facing sweeping changes in health care, Emmett also called for a frank discussion about changes in local health care delivery, asking whether it is now time for the state to consider establishing regional health care systems to replace the patchwork of local hospital districts and smaller public agencies.

Emmett concluded his address with a call to renew and strengthen support from the county, City of Houston, TxDOT and Metro for TranStar, the building that houses “the premier emergency operations center in the nation.” The 20-year TranStar operating agreement among the four partners expires next year.

Emmett’s speech was his eighth State of the County Address since becoming county judge, but this year’s event was the first to be held at NRG Park, the county-owned park that is home to NRG Stadium, NRG Center, NRG Arena and the venerable Astrodome. NRG Park also will host Super Bowl 51 in February 2017.

Emmett concluded this year’s event by inviting the nearly 1,000 attendees across the street to the floor of the Astrodome, which turns 50 years old this spring. Emmett, the Urban Land Institute and other leaders have called for conversion of the Dome into the nation’s largest indoor park.

“If we all pull together, the Dome can be a memorable site for some of the Super Bowl fans’ experience,” Emmett said. “It would be a shame to miss such an opportunity.”