As the city considers $230 million in projects for what could be its first attempt at a bond referendum in 27 years, officials Thursday held the first of five planned town meetings to solicit input from residents and talk about flooding.
The meeting was the first time city officials have met with residents expressly to talk about drainage improvements and a bond election after they first broached the subject at a council meeting in October.
Residents spoke for more than an hour about their concerns after city officials presented what actions they already have taken and what other changes might reduce flooding, highlighting the importance of additional funding.
City officials emphasized that the list of projects is still preliminary and subject to community direction.
“We truly are interested in pursuing the projects that the community most supports,” Assistant City Manager Ogden “Bo” Bass said.
Hurricane Harvey hovered over Galveston County in late August 2017, dropping more than 50 inches of rain on some parts of League City and flooding about 8,000 homes.
In the year since the storm, the city council approved flood-control measures for new developments and the city has increased ditch maintenance, Bass said. New city goals include mowing roadside ditches nine times each year, mowing major outfall ditches six times each year, mowing detention ponds four times per year and mowing outfall flow lines four times per year.
But residents Thursday spoke about their concerns with drainage.
One resident, for instance, said his home comes close to flooding every time it rains more than 4 inches.
Longer-term solutions must include cooperation from several entities and capital expenditures that are more than the general operating budget, city officials said.
“We need help to get everything done,” Mayor Pat Hallisey said. “Some of it is beyond the capability of the city, and we have to work on our problems together. It’s not, like some people say, just a matter of cleaning the ditches out.”
City officials have included 26 drainage projects at a cost of about $120 million on a $230 million list of projects for a possible May bond election.
Those drainage projects, in part, were decided based on the results from six drainage studies, officials said.
But a bond election isn’t the only option for funding drainage improvements.
Some council members, such as Nick Long, have argued that officials should instead pursue an increase to the city’s sales tax rate before going out for a bond election.
City staff members also are working on grant applications for other funding, Bass said.
Some residents Thursday still voiced concern that the city isn’t doing enough to improve the drainage system.
“We are working as judiciously and expeditiously as we can,” Hallisey said.
City officials have four other town halls planned for Jan. 10, Feb. 7, March 7 and April 4 to discuss a possible bond election in addition to several council workshops.
The last day to call a bond election is Feb. 15, officials said. The city has not attempted a bond referendum since 1992.