Houston Matters

Fort Bend County Judge KP George discusses growth, development changes in county

Fort Bend County has had several development interests including Fort Bend ISD projects, highway improvements and flooding prevention.

Fort Bend County Judge KP George during an interview granted to Houston Public Media in March 2019.
Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media
Fort Bend County Judge KP George during an interview granted to Houston Public Media in March 2019.

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Fort Bend ISD voters approved a $1.2 billion bond last May to build and upgrade campuses in the district.

But on Monday, trustees said they did not know soon enough that the project was expected to run $133 million over budget, which Houston Landing reported.

Fort Bend has had several recent developments of interest, and Fort Bend County Judge KP George joined Houston Matters on Tuesday to discuss them. He said what is happening is a result of high construction costs, which have increased over the past few years.

"We just had a mobility bond, $200-plus million out of $710 million was dedicated for previous projects," he said. "Out of that, $146 million was just to accommodate the exponential price increase and I’m not surprised."

School districts maintain their own budgets, and George said he does not have a role in what the school board does with its funding. But he does have a role in the $710 million mobility bond, which is part of the largest bond in the county's history.

County engineers are estimating up to $175 million will be spent this year, mostly money from previously approved bonds. Much of it will go towards Hwy. 99.

"The bond you pass doesn't mean you're going to issue the bond next year, and everything is going to be done," George said. "It takes anywhere from five to seven, if not eight, years to complete a project, depending on various factors."

George said the county is still working on projects from its 2017 and 2020 bonds. Fort Bend has grown significantly, he said, and mobility is the number one priority for him.

"Nobody wants to sit in traffic," he said. "We just want to make sure we are doing in our county, everything we can possibly do to ... create a quality of life for our citizens."

Also in Fort Bend County, the Sugar Land City Council recently approved a $28 million grant application to the Texas Water Development Board to address erosion along the Brazos River, where a lot of development has occurred. But George said he doesn't see that as a downside to the county's growth.

"We are truly mindful, we are making sure enough detention areas as dedicated," he said. "The last three of our floodings, two of them were not because there was a lot of rain in Fort Bend County; Brazos River is right in the middle of Fort Bend County and Fort Bend County has a flat terrain."