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Harris County Almost Phished For $885,000

We need to upgrade our systems all the time. And the County Treasurer, a duly elected official, his name’s on the checks, he wanted to take a look at what our systems are, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says

The Harris County Commissioners Court discussed the effects of judge Rosenthal's order during the bi-monthly meeting it held on June 27th.
The Harris County Commissioners Court.

The check was written and Harris County was nearly scammed for close to $900,000. Fortunately County auditors discovered someone requested the banking information for a vendor that provided services following Hurricane Harvey be changed.

So that’s what Treasurer Orlando Sanchez said he did. “We were notified by the auditors office who caught the error at the last minute. And so we then had to jump all the hoops to recover the money,” he said. The check was written on a Friday, and a stop-payment was made before it could be cashed the following Monday.

This happened back in mid October. Sanchez has been trying to get a third party to review financial practices ever since. But nearly three months later, he’s still waiting.

According to the Harris County Attorney’s Office, the treasurer doesn’t have the constitutional right to review other official’s procedures.

Judge Ed Emmett just wants the review, and has given the Attorney’s office two weeks to work out the legal logistics. “We need to upgrade our systems all the time. And the County Treasurer, a duly elected official, his name’s on the checks, he wanted to take a look at what our systems are, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Emmett said.

Robert Soard with the County Attorney’s office, said Emmett’s timeline will be met. 

Also during Tuesday monthly Commissioner’s Court meeting, the Court approved the buyback of 39 homes that were flooded by Harvey. The homes are spread among five neighborhoods throughout the county. Judge Emmett is hoping the buyback of flooded homes becomes a regular practice. “You’ll probably begin to see them on every court [agenda], if at all possible,” he said.

The County is spending its own money to buyout the homes, with the hope that FEMA will eventually reimburse Harris County.

The Court also approved a plan to join forces with Montgomery County to study flooding issues along the San Jacinto River and Spring Creek. The Counties will apply for a planning grant from the Texas Water Development Board. Emmett said a major goal is to develop a plan for dealing with water from Lake Conroe so it doesn’t flood Kingwood.

“If we could’ve released that water in advance of Harvey coming, it would’ve helped. So this allows the two counties to work together to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Emmett.

The dredging of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston will also be studied.

 

 

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