More than 40 mayors and county judges on Wednesday asked Gov. Greg Abbott for help meeting financial matches for federal grants, but only one signature was from Galveston County.
Hurricane Harvey devastated communities in August, and a variety of grants could help with flood mitigation, but most federal grants require a local match. Wednesday’s letter was about the Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which will pay 75 percent of specific flood-control projects, if communities applying for the grants can cover 25 percent of the cost.
Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough signed the letter, but no other mayors or other leaders in Galveston County did. Yarbrough signed it to show support for other communities, he said.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry knew about the letter, but chose not to sign it, he said.
“The governor told us the state will take care of matches,” Henry said. “He gave his assurances last fall.”
The letter asked the state to use its Rainy Day Fund or the Economic Stabilization Fund to pay the 25 percent matches for local governments.
“It was rude to tell the governor how to do it,” Henry said.
Cities and counties are strapped for money but still need flood mitigation funds, the letter stated.
League City Mayor Pat Hallisy was unaware of the letter, he said. Friendswood officials also weren’t aware of the letter, Mayor-elect Mike Foreman said.
“We spend a great deal of time talking about regional efforts,” Hallisey said. “It takes a regional effort to find regional solutions. It takes communication.”
If the state helped League City pay its local match for a federal grant, the city would take the money, Hallisey said.
“Of course we would,” Hallisey said. “We are all strapped for money. Any mayor in this county would say this.”
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program backs projects that implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. Local governments can use the grants for immediate recovery from a disaster, FEMA officials said.
The program also provides funding to help develop cities and counties develop hazard mitigation plans if they don’t already have them.