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Commissioner Tom Ramsey: I Call Upon Judge Hidalgo To Stand With Me and Our Precinct Three Constituents.
Most residents in Harris County do not realize the majority of the population and commercial development growth is taking place in the unincorporated areas of the County. While the City of Houston has 2.3 million residents, the fact is there are 2.4 million residents in the unincorporated areas of Harris County. This population that grows on a daily basis is served by one of the four County Commissioners Precincts in which they reside.
To keep up with this growth and its demand on our infrastructure, voters were asked last November to approve three propositions for the issuance of bonds totaling $1.2 billion to assist Commissioners and the County in maintaining and providing the best infrastructure possible for our residents and growing population. Proposition A provided for up to $200 million in investments in Public Safety Facilities. Proposition B allotted up to $900 million for Road and Bridge investments (roads, drainage, and transportation-related programs). Proposition C funding allocated up to $200 million in parks and trail investments.
Prior to the Bond Election, during discussions in Commissioners Court regarding the Road and Bridge Bonds, it was promised there would be an equal distribution of most of the funds and an equity distribution for the remainder of funds. On August 22, 2022 during Court, voters were told each Commissioner Precinct would receive $220 million of the Road and Bridge Bond funds. In fact, County Judge Lina Hidalgo made it a condition of her vote on that day saying she wouldn’t vote for it unless each precinct received an equal amount of $220 million. You, the voter, approved the bonds with this understanding. I thank you for supporting and passing this bond package.
However, the truth regarding the current allocation of Road and Bridge Bonds is quite different.
In fact, on August 8, 2023 during Judge Hidalgo’s absence, Commissioners Court in a vote of 3-1 changed how much each Commissioner Precinct would receive. Obviously, I voted against this, and I truly believe that if Judge Hidalgo could have been at the meeting, this would never have occurred.
Under this new formula, Precinct 1 with 15% of County road miles received $269.6 million. Precinct 2 with 16% of County road miles received $293.6 million. Precinct 4 with 22% of County road miles received $239.2 million. The fact is Precinct Three with 47% of County road miles is receiving the smallest portion at $187.6 million – a far cry from the 25% or $220 million originally promised and voted upon by Harris County residents.
Instead of prioritizing infrastructure across the County and providing equal funding as stipulated by Judge Hidalgo and supported in Commissions Court which is documented by both video and written transcript, my colleagues decided to change the course of how the bond money would be allocated.
The truth is the majority of Harris County Commissioners Court Members have once again given voters reason not to trust government. Our residents in the unincorporated areas of Harris County are owed this equal division of the 2022 Road and Bridge Bond funds as promised at public engagement meetings and during Commissions Court. Thus, I am asking Judge Hidalgo who is back at the helm to join me in giving our constituents in Precinct Three the funds they were promised and rightfully deserve.
Judge Hidalgo, we have the opportunity to regain the trust of the voters and right this wrong by honoring the promised 25% or $220 million of Road and Bridge Bonds to each Harris County Commissioner Precinct. Judge Hidalgo, I ask you to stand with me and convince our colleagues to correct this injustice at our next Commissioners Court Meeting.