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Judge Emmett: Harris County Taxpayers Will Have To Share Costs Of Flood Control

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says a $1 billion bond, including property taxes, will be needed to pay for flood mitigation projects that federal and state funds don’t cover.


Flooding in Katy, Texas from Tropical Storm Harvey as seen from the sky.

Harris County commissioners approved a $120 million budget for the county Flood Control District. That barely scrapes the surface of what the county needs for post-Harvey renovations.

The district's budget for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 includes $60 million for operations and $60 million for capital improvement projects. But the county is looking at billions of dollars' worth of projects to safeguard against future flooding – including building a third reservoir, widening bayous, and buyouts of flood prone homes.

Judge Ed Emmett says some of the money will come from Congress or the state, but not enough. "We will eventually have to, as a county, say, ‘OK, here are the projects that aren't covered by those other sources. We're going to have to cover them,'" he says.

County commissioners are still working out the details of a $1 billion flood control bond, which would include a property tax increase. Emmett says he hates the property tax, but it's the only source of revenue the county is allowed under state law.


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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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