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HCA Welcomes Harris County Commissioner, Steve Radack

Friday, June 24, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Nielsen
May 2016 Cover Story

HCA Welcomes Harris County Commissioner, Steve Radack

The Houston Contractors Association was pleased to welcome Harris County, Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack as our May luncheon presenter.  Commissioner Radack spoke passionately about the need to invest in infrastructure and pressed the attendees to become more organized and involved in the election process at all levels.

Commissioner Radack started his remarks by noting that in 2015 the Metro one cent sales tax generated $715.4 million.  The State of Texas brings in 6.25 times that amount or almost $4.5 billion from their collection of sales tax.  The County cannot charge sales tax and must rely upon property taxes to cover their costs.  Now, according to Radack, there are people in state government that want to limit and change the ad valorem tax structure in Harris County.  Commissioner Radack stated that these people basically do not want the County to collect as much money as it has in the past.  He then asked the audience how are we going to pay for all the infrastructure that the county needs.  Radack said that there were months last year that saw over 10,000 people moving into Harris County and 30,000 into the region.  Radack noted that the voters approved almost $850 million in bonds last November.  The County has not sold any of those bonds as of yet because it would necessitate a tax increase and Commissioner’s Court has not agreed to have a tax increase in the last twenty years.  You would have to go back to when Jon Lindsay was County Judge to see the last Harris County tax increase.  (Jon Lindsay served as the Harris County Judge from 1975 to 1995).  Radack noted that the county tax base has gone up in value, and said that’s what it’s supposed to do when you sell bonds and do a decent job of running the county.  He stated that at this time he does not know when the County will sell any of the bonds.

Commissioner Radack continued by stating that the Port of Houston wants to have a bond election and would prefer that the County continue with its practice of picking up the Port’s debt.  However, said Radack, the Port can now afford to do revenue bonds.  Radack stated that they may not want to do revenue bonds because they would have to pay more interest, but the reality is that it is still a low interest rate.  Radack stated that he believes that the Port does not need to hold an election, they need to go and sell some revenue bonds, and they need to pay the debt.  The County needs their money to pay for infrastructure and roads.  

Precinct 3 has thirty one projects under design with an estimated cost of $92 million, stated Radack, and there will be more to come.  Commissioner Radack said that his plan is simple, he plans to spend money on the construction of roads, intersections and signal improvements.  He stated that he will continue to bid projects in his precinct with incentives for early completion, and Precinct 3 is going to continue to move forward.

Commissioner Radack said that the biggest problem that Harris County has is apathy.  People need to get out and go vote, and in doing so, would grab the attention of our elected leaders at all levels of government.  Unfortunately people are not doing it.  The Commissioner said that he wished as an industry we would organize our employees and their friends and families to vote in these elections.  He stated that there are a lot of elected officials in office right now that do not see infrastructure as being important. Without infrastructure we would not have what we have here today.  Things are deteriorating at such a rate that now the only way to fix them is to replace them and he used the poor condition of Greenbriar road as an example.  People need to wake up and run for public office and that includes engineers and contractors, and elect people that think like we think.

When asked about the current status of the Addick’s Reservoir dam system, Commissioner Radack said that this is a real issue.  He stated that the reservoir system will hold 420,000 acre feet of water.  When the water gets to the point that Highway 6 at Patterson road becomes impassible, that means that the reservoir is at one third of capacity and 65% of the government owned land is flooded.  The Army Corps of Engineers did not finish buying all the land that they should have, said Radack.  If the reservoir ever gets to capacity it will back water up to the Grand Parkway, flooding homes that were built in the land that should have purchased for the reservoir to a depth of between seven to nine feet.  Commissioner Radack went on to say that if the reservoir ever got to capacity and there was a breach in the middle of the system it would be disastrous for the City of Houston.  The water would start off narrow, but would quickly spread out to cover a width of one mile wide heading to downtown Houston and would not stop until it hit the Port of Houston, taking out everything in its path along with it.  The Army Corps of Engineers is working hard to make sure that this reservoir remains strong, but again this is an infrastructure project that could use more funding.