By George Slaughter
Following the 2016 Tax Day Flood and Hurricane Harvey last year, officials at all levels of government have been working on flood preventative issues for the Katy and Southeast Texas areas. The proposed Cypress Creek reservoir, for instance, is being addressed at the federal level.
But for the City of Katy, Mayor Chuck Brawner said it was important that local officials focus on what they can do locally.
“It’s important for us to control what we can in the city,” Brawner said. “It’s going to go slower dealing with what is north of us.”
Brawner said that Katy is one of the only cities in the area that has a bond ready for voters so soon after last year’s storm.
The three bond propositions, totaling $19.25 million, will not affect the city property tax rate.
The first proposition, for $4.25 million, is for street work to elevate the 1st Street bridge and Katy Hockley Road (Avenue D). Breaking down the proposition further, $1.25 million is for elevating the bridge, and $3 million is for Katy Hockley Road.
“We have to raise the 1st Street bridge,” Brawner said. “It kind of serves as a dam, so we’ve got to raise that up.”
The second proposition, for $10.25 million, is for drainage projects for the Fortuna and Pine Forest subdivisions. Phase II of this project is for a detention pond at Pitts Road.
The third proposition, for $5 million, is for expansion of the city’s sewer plant.
“We’re almost at capacity now (on the water treatment plant,),” Brawner said. “If we don’t plan for the future, even if it’s just built out in the city, or the Katy Boardwalk, we’re going to be in trouble. We need to have a good reserve built up.”
Cash reserves have been and are being used to get started on these projects now. The bond propositions, if passed, will help the city rebuild its reserves.
“We don’t have a lot of room to do what we need to do,” Brawner said. “The bond election will pay us back for our investment, but we want to get something moving now. Lots of houses in Katy have been flooded.”
Brawner said that the contracts will have incentives if the contractors finish their work ahead of schedule, and penalties for missed deadlines. He said the work would inconvenience people but he would explain to neighborhood residents what to expect.
Other revenue is coming into the city for street work. According to a city document, METRO is funding the street work on 1st Street for $1.1 million, and Phase II expansion of Morton Road for $3.5 million. Also, the potential for grant money exists for work south of Highway 90 in Fort Bend County.
Brawner said as he’s spoken with people around town, he’s heard no opposition to the bond issue. There might be some opposition to it, he said, but he’s heard more positive feedback about it because people recognize that more flooding, or another hurricane, could occur in the future.
People are getting apprehensive about the upcoming hurricane season, Brawner said, and he expected that. That’s why he and other city officials are pushing for voter approval of the bonds.
“I’m pushing as fast as the law will allow me to push,” Brawner said. “if I’d had my way, they would already have started.”
For polling times and places, including absentee voting information, see the city’s election page.