Harris County Commissioners Court preview: Possible bond vote, $36.7M for electronic tollways

Harris County Commissioners Court preview: Possible bond vote, $36.7M for electronic tollways

Harris County commissioners will meet Aug. 2 for their first session this month and may cast an informal vote to adopt a $1 billion-1.2 billion bond issue for the November election, approve a total of $36.7 million for electronic tollways and discuss a study on county attrition rates.

The agenda for Commissioners Court is released at 9 a.m. on the Friday before each meeting. The meetings are held at 10 a.m. and are available to livestream here.

Bond vote

Commissioners have discussed a potential $1 billion-1.2 billion bond for roads, parks and public safety facilities over the past few court sessions. With the window of time between Aug. 10-22 to vote on a bond election rapidly approaching, commissioners are likely to decide whether to adopt a bond issue for the Nov. 8 election during this meeting.

Because the next regular session of court falls Aug. 23, commissioners would need to call a special session between Aug. 10-22 to formally vote to adopt a bond.

Apart from the general bond framework outlined in previous court meetings, backup documentation for a separate agenda item on capital improvement projects from the Harris County Office of Management and Budget lists five projects proposed by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for a public safety bond, including a facility to train first responders on flood and swift water rescue operations and another facility to simulate active shooter scenarios.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey stated he would vote against a bond issue at the previous court meeting; Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle questioned what he believed to be a lack of specificity regarding the proposed bond project areas.

All-electronic tollways transition

The Harris County Toll Road Authority is requesting $36.7 million for six contracts with engineering firms to permanently transition to all-electronic roadway environments away from cash toll plazas. The design and construction should take 1,460 days or four years to complete, according to the contracts provided as backup documentation.

The HCTRA would convert entrance and exit ramps along Beltway 8 and the Fort Bend Parkway extension to all-electronic tollways.

Attrition in county departments

The Commissioners Court’s Analyst’s Office submitted a memo for the Aug. 2 meeting for a study looking at attrition and retention rates for specific county departments. Attrition rates for fiscal year 2022 range between 10.2% for the Harris County Flood Control District and 30.4% for Harris County Public Health. The Office of Management and Budget had an attrition rate of 89.5%; after adjusting for position transfers to the Office of County Administration and Human Resources and Risk Management, the attrition rate is 20.7%.

Ramsey originally requested the study on attrition and retention rates for specific county departments at the May 10 Commissioners Court meeting. Commissioners could choose to pull the attrition item for further discussion.

November elections audit

County officials may discuss the Texas secretary of state office’s recent announcement over social media of a random Nov. 8 elections audit for four Texas counties, including Harris County.

County Attorney Christian Menefee has asked for an executive session to talk about potential legal action that the county could pursue. Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis also put an audit-related item on the agenda that includes a request for an update from Interim Elections Administrator Beth Stevens on the upcoming election.

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