Fort Bend County voters may not have to decide on a $90 million bond issue this November. Instead, they may have to decide on a bond proposal in excess of $232 million.
At a Thursday workshop meeting, Fort Bend County Commissioners primarily discussed the proposed $98 million bond for renovating existing buildings and building new ones. The commissioners are working to finalize the bond proposal by the first week of August to get it ready for a November election.
Near the end of the workshop, Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales and Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers discussed adding to the bond projects that deal with flood mitigation and mobility, which adds another $142.5 million to the bond total.
But Meyers rankled some on the court since about 50% of the proposed mobility projects are in his precinct, and wanted to put them in this year’s bond proposal instead of waiting until next year, which is what Morales was planning to do.
“Obviously you’ve done more work for Precinct 3 than Precinct 1,” Morales said to Meyers regarding the mobility part of the bond program. “Precinct 1 is going to have to have a mobility bond next year if wants to stay ahead of the curve.”
Meyers argued that adding mobility to the facilities bond proposal now instead of waiting until next year may save county taxpayers in the long run.
“I want to work to fix our needs, which are flood mitigation and mobility,” he said. “But taxpayers are getting hit and we need to give them relief.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken DeMerchant responded by saying that the tax rate will not go up due to the bonds. Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage also added that the other commissioners have other projects that want to get done.
“You can’t have it both ways,” he told Meyers.
The flood mitigation projects were projected at $74.5 million, while the mobility projects are just under $68 million.
Those projects could be added to the $90 million projected for building and renovating county facilities, including a new emergency operations center, renovations to the juvenile detention center, a facility for the elections department, and new offices and a formal entrance at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds.
A multi-purpose facility for events and for use as an emergency shelter was on the list, but it was deferred, possibly for three years.
“The community wanted this facility, but with other priorities, I want to defer,” Morales said. “I think the community will understand. I like to see how things go, but we just need to wait.”
The facilities part of the bond would also include building a memorial and park at the site where the remains of 95 African-American state inmates were discovered near a Fort Bend ISD building site in Sugar Land, with an estimated cost of $2.7 million.
Meyers recommended that the county could build an annex for Precinct 4 at the site, but DeMerchant quickly reacted. “We’re not doing that,” he said.