By Elsa Maxey
Fort Bend County will proceed with placing a $184,900,000 bond referendum on the November 5 election ballot. In action taken by Fort Bend County Commissioners Court last week, the unanimous action followed extensive work by the county, which most recently included a workshop and later the selection of Allen Boone Humphries Robinson, LLP as bond counsel for the ordered county-wide road bond election in the fall.
The county’s last bond referendum in 2007 was for $150 million for mobility projects that are just about all complete. With voter approval, projects this go-round would mean that construction could begin late next year or early 2015 for almost 60 road projects consisting of new roads, expansions and improvements due to the county’s continuing residential and commercial growth calling for an expansion of the infrastructure locally (visit fortbendstar.com for project list).
County Judge Bob Hebert said the bond referendum approval would not impact the county tax rate, which for the upcoming fiscal year beginning this October, will be going before the public for comment before it is adopted.
Commissioners Court recently approved the proposed property tax rate of $0.48476 per $100 valuation. It includes the General Fund rate of $0.38076, the Road and Bridge Fund rate of $0.031 and an Interest and Sinking Fund rate of $0.073. Although the proposed tax rate is “effectively a 4.6 percent increase in the tax rate” as qualified by Precinct 1 Commissioner Richard Morrison, when he made a motion for approval, the combined tax rate of the county and its drainage district will remain the same. “The overall tax rate for the county will remain flat,” affirmed Judge Hebert.
Public hearings for the proposed tax rate are scheduled for this week on Thursday, August 22, and next Tuesday, August 27.
Next month, the county will hold another set of public hearings on September 9 and September 10 to receive comments on its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. In September 2012, the Fort Bend Commissioners Court adopted last year’s annual budget amounting to $250 million.
Along the lines of other bond measures impacting city residents in Fort Bend and going on the November ballot, this week the Sugar Land City Council will have ordered an election for a $50 million bond referendum. Just down the street, the City of Rosenberg cancelled plans for a $12.5 million bond referendum this November. Residents of Missouri City, too, will be probably see a bond referendum in May 2014.
This November, voter approval will also be sought for the creation of Fort Bend County Assistance District No. 6, as called for by commissioners court. It will allow for a sales and use tax of one cent for the district along SH 6, north of U.S. 90A to the Fort Bend County line.