Guest Column by Janis Lowe

In Friendswood, Letter to the Editor, Opinion by Reporter NewsLeave a Comment

Will You Say No To Free Money?

As per the Friendswood City Council Meeting on Sept 11 (re: item #17 aka Galv. County Bond in November), the angst of #17 was some members of Council do not think the County is sending ‘enough’ money back to Friendswood in the coming Galveston County Bond election, if the bond does pass, for the #1 project the Council determined to be funded.

Council unanimously decided months ago the extension of Friendswood Lakes Blvd (FLB) to our southern city limits, and on to I-45 via the League City Parkway, was the number one issue (Galv. County criteria applied) because that project would provide traffic relief. It would help the FISD school buses in their travels. It would relieve traffic on Falcon Ridge Blvd, FM 518, and FM 528. It would allow better access to Lake Friendswood with less negative impact to existing West Ranch homeowners. It would cause more development and the expansion of the City, and County, tax base – 5 really good and compelling reasons to build this road.

Because the issue for Council of the coming November bond election is ‘not enough money coming back”, I would like to remind Council of their history of participation in receiving directed Galveston County tax dollars BACK to help Friendswood.

The County’s participation with Galveston County municipalities started conversationally in 1996 for a coming Bond election proposed for 2000. Cities were asked back then what projects were important to them and the County would consider funding, fully or partially, those projects if a bond election passed for those projects.

Because of this working relationship with the County Commissioners Court, the return of our County dollars has occurred on numerous occasions since that first time (there may be more, but these are my recall):

Completed: In 1998 the County gave us $350K for our Senior citizen needs, building and/or a bus.

Completed: The 2000 County bond was based on a) $5.93 mil. as per allocation based on population or b) $4.2 mil. allocation per tax base. The County leans toward the higher number of the two and we received $4.95 mil that bond. The Sunset Drive/bridge improvements was in that bond.

Completed: In 2008, $4.2 mil County dollars provided street improvements to Sunnyview Drive ($600K) and Skyview Drive ($600K) across from the Quaker Church. Massive drainage improvements were made to the downtown district. The remainder was used for the Melody Lane curb, gutter, & turning lane improvements. And with the new Melody Lane improvements came copious drainage improvements for that area of town. Mayor Holland’s had a proposed new residential structure on Crawford St. for which a permit could not have been issued unless these Melody Lane improvements were provided. Mayor Holland was for that County Bond.

Ongoing: Galveston County, with our City and Drainage District also participating, gave $10 mil to the Harris County project known as MUD GULLY. Mud Gully improvements are designed to help us and League City, both sides of Clear Creek.

Ongoing: Improvements to the upper end of the Cowart’s Creek watershed are happening in the amount of $4.8 mil of County dollars. Hundreds of homes will be helped with this project.

For the Nov. 7, 2017 Bond election (total of $35 mil for streets and drainage Countywide and the remainder for other County needs AND with no tax rate increase), the County Commissioners Court’s math formula of “fairness to all” shows the County will give Friendswood $3.5 mil. for the FLB project. The estimated project costs are $5.5 mil. Council Member Jim Hill and Asst City Manager Morad Kabiri further negotiated if the City can provide $1 mil from their own budget in the future, the County will match that $1 mil with another $1 mil from their budget. That gets us to the proposed cost of the FLB extension of $5.5 mil. That math is for every $1.00 we spend, we get back $4.50 dollars. (Reminder , we as citizens have already paid these monies in in our County taxes. And this project is giving that money back to us.) This seems to me to be a more than a fair math of sending County dollars back to Friendswood when the County is not required to EVER do so. Therefore, this $4.5 mil is FREE money to us.

So why are several members of this Council opposed to the FLB project when they are on record as being for it several times in the months’ past because it will do so many good things? How is there angst with ‘free money’ for the FLB project? (Note: the FLB route has been on the master thoroughfare plan since about 1984.)

We can have a 450% return on our tax dollar investment in a road that solves a lot of problems, when the Bond passes and Council stays focused. We can have “some of something”. Or if we do not support the bond, we can have “none of nothing”.

Some of Mayor and Council say, in the 9/11/17 meeting, they will work against the County Bond. That is sad because it says they do not want to solve traffic issues and they do not want a return on the investment of our City and County tax dollars.

Please take the time to VOTE FOR THE BOND on November 7 at City Hall. Friendswood is, and always will be, a better city for County dollars to return to us for our designated projects.

Please call if you have any questions.

Janis Lowe
1470 Garden Lakes Dr.
(Paid for by Janis Lowe)

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