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Harris County $1.4 billion short on bond flood control projects

Now county leaders are looking for dollars in other places to get the projects done on schedule.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County is $1.4 billion short in completing all the flood control projects from a 2018 bond program that voters approved after Harvey.

Now county leaders are looking for dollars in other places to get the projects done on schedule.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo says before she took office, the county got a verbal commitment for $1 billion in federal dollars to be passed down by the state, but they never got it in writing. Those dollars never came.

Judge Hidalgo also says some construction costs were higher than expected.

On Tuesday, the county judge said the missing federal dollars were going to support projects in mostly lower-income areas.

“The good news is that in those areas of town, they’re not behind schedule,” said Judge Hidalgo.

However, she says the county needs to come up with more money before there are delays.

“We’re looking for alternate sources of funding,” said Judge Hidalgo. “We’ve already found some within the county. We restructured our toll road debt, which not only increased our bond rating, so it was good financially, but it also helped us identify additional funding that we could use toward these flood control projects, and we are meeting with the federal government, speaking with them directly, saying ‘we need to make up that gap.’”

Judge Hidalgo said they’ll keep looking in the county coffers for more money.

They’re also asking the state for help.

“We’re working backwards,” she said. “’When would it be that projects would be delayed because of lack of funding?’ Okay, this is it, so we need to get the funding before that date. We don’t need delays.”

The Harris County Flood Control District has until June 30 to come up with a Plan B.

Judge Hidalgo says she and other commissioners are all committing that every project promised will get done on schedule.

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