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Harris County Residents Head To Polls To Vote On $2.5B Flood Control Bond

Houston Other
U.S. soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard rescue Houston residents as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey continue to rise on Aug. 28, 2017.

Harris County residents will vote Saturday — the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey's landfall in Texas — on a $2.5B bond measure to fund flood control projects. If approved, the bond will finance at least 237 projects in the Greater Houston area over the next 10 to 15 years, according to the Texas Tribune

In early voting, which ended Tuesday, more than 92,000 residents filed their decision on the bond referendum, according to the Harris County clerk's office. The county has about 2.3 million registered voters

The bond funds, endorsed by the Harris County Commissioners, would increase the Harris County Flood Control District annual budget from $120M to about $500M, require a property tax rate increase in Harris County and help obtain additional grant funding, Community Impact reported.

It will also help finance the largest flood-related home buyout program in U.S. history, the completion of several long ongoing bayou-widening projects, an improved early flood warning system, new flood plain maps and improved drainage.  

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett told the Houston Chronicle if the bond fails it wouldn't end well for anyone. 

"The money has to be used on flood control projects, but we’re careful not to prioritize in any way because we want to do them as soon as they’re available,” he told Community Impact earlier this month. “It probably adds up to more than 2.5 [billion dollars], so we’ll have to make sure that over the years we work through that entire list.”

In large part, commercial real estate assets noted minimal damage from Harvey flooding compared to the residential side. Transwestern President Kevin Roberts said most assets like retail, industrial and multifamily benefited from the surge in demand to support the city's recovery.

Though commercial properties would be impacted by a property tax increase to cover the bonds, which has been contentious, he supports the flood bond package.

"Industry and business leaders across the industry spectrum realized that flooding is a threat that must be addressed immediately and in a significant way," Roberts said.