Spring, Texas – During a June 25th meeting, the Harris County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 to reallocate traffic funding away from Precincts 3 and 4. The court passed the measure in an effort to evenly split the sales tax revenue the county receives from the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, also known as METRO, to precincts 1 and 2.
The current budget total is projected at about $32 million this year, according to METRO’s fiscal year 2019 budget book.
Previously, funds were split so that 18% goes to Precinct 1, 25% goes to Precinct 2, 27% goes to Precinct 3 and 30% goes to Precinct 4.
The shift in funds would redirect about $4.8 million away from precincts 3 and 4 over to Precincts 1 and 2.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis has stated that the redistribution of funds would be temporary in order to provide equity and fairness to counties that have been overlooked in the past.
Ellis also has plans to push for a toll reallocation that splits the revenue evenly so that each precinct receives $30 million. This decreases revenue to precincts 3 and 4 by roughly $2.4 million and $6 million per year.
Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle has spoken out in opposition to the METRO fund reallocation and has taken to protesting the toll road reallocations as well.
Cagle’s office sent out a letter to stakeholders to help protest this shift in funds.
In the letter, Commissioner Jack Cagle urges officials to speak in favor of restoring the funds back to Precincts 3 and 4.
“These mobility funds maintain and construct roads that keep traffic moving in your community and provide roadway access for a prompt response for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services that will ensure the continued safety of all residents,” Cagle wrote in the letter.
Cagle and others, such as Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack, have stated that the shift in funds will greatly impact the most incorporated areas of Houston.
“The reality is this, when you take a look at the growing areas of Harris County … that’s precincts 3 and 4,” Radack said at the meeting. “What you’re going to do is create a detrimental thing in Harris County because we’re not going to be able to build the infrastructure necessary to keep this county growing.”
However, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia rebutted Radack’s point, stating that the reason growth has been slower is due to the lack of mobility funding.
After talk about dividing funds based on transparency and empirical data, County Engineer John Blount will begin gathering information on each precinct. The end goal is to create a data-driven model to better decide how funding should be allocated.
The next Commissioners Court meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 9.
The meetings will be open to the public and take place at 10:00 a.m. at 1001 Preston Street, Suite 934, Houston, Texas 77002.