DALLAS – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has authorized Harris County to call a special flood bond election on the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall on the Gulf coast.
The size of the bond proposal has not been set, but Harris County Commissioners have discussed issues that would exceed $2 billion.
The flood bonds would be expected to require an increase in Harris County's property tax rate.
Abbott granted the county's request to hold an “emergency election,” saying the need for better flood control does "qualify as an emergency." Abbott said he is "committed to working with Harris County to achieve its goals in the most efficient way possible."
"As this request for an emergency special election was duly passed by a unanimous vote of the Harris County Commissioners Court, I hereby grant approval as governor of Texas for this emergency special election to be called for bonds to fund flood-related mitigation projects that respond to Hurricane Harvey," Abbott wrote in a letter accompanying his decision.
Abbott's decision comes a week after Harris County Commissioners Court set the date, believing that a vote while the hurricane’s flooding is fresh on voters’ minds would help the chances of passage.
Although commissioners expect to issue the bonds over several years, they agreed that it was important to have the authority available when federal matching grant opportunities arise.
The county is seeking its largest flood control funding since the hurricane dumped more than 50 inches of rain on the Houston area, killing dozens of people and inundating more than 204,000 buildings.