Conroe, September 27 – Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae and County Emergency Management Director Darren Hess provided the Montgomery County Commissioners Court some sad numbers concerning the number of homes and families’ lives destroyed when Tropical Storm Harvey and the San Jacinto River Authority joined to flood Montgomery County.
Hess told the Commissioners Court:
- “Citizens have reported 3,700 homes which the flood damaged.”
- “Citizens have reported $16 million in damage so far.”
- Those numbers are merely the citizen reports, as the complete numbers could be significantly larger.
McRae reported to the Court and to the public in attendance at the meeting:
- In the reappraisal work of the Montgomery Central Appraisal District, they’re looking at 29,973 homes in areas the District has identified as suffering from multiple homes with flood damage.
- The Appraisal District has determined that 2,728 homes they’ve examined suffered from flood damage.
- 22,593 still require Appraisal District review for whether they received flood damage.
- The Appraisal District and McRae anticipate that more than 5,000 homes will have suffered flood damage.
- 450 homes in River Plantation subdivision alone suffered flooding.
- In response to a question from Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack who asked whether the Appraisal District will reappraise homes that are next door to flood-damaged properties due to the likely diminution in their property value as well, McRae explained that the Texas Tax Code doesn’t allow for such reappraisals. Noack stated his hope that the Appraisal District will reduce the valuations of homes near flooded homes as well as homes actually flooded.
McRae further explained that the average valuation of a home in Montgomery County was $271,594 prior to the Harvey/SJRA flooding event. McRae projected that if 6,000 homes suffered 50% damage, then based on that average valuation, affected taxpayers would save $177 per home on their taxes while the total impact to the Montgomery County government’s budget will be approximately $1,066,854, which she emphasized were “rough estimates.”
At this point, only the Montgomery County government, the Woodlands Township, and the Montgomery County Hospital District have authorized reappraisals for flood-damaged homes that suffered from the Harvey/SJRA flooding. The Conroe Independent School District voted against permitting reappraisals on a 5 to 2 vote. Only CISD Trustees Melanie Bush and Ray Sanders voted in favor of reappraisals, while the other five Trustees showed a greater concern for tax collection than for the suffering of flooded homeowners.
The reappraisals will likely cost the taxing jurisdictions participating in the relief program approximately $110,000 to $150,000 in administrative expenses incident to the reappraisals. The Appraisal District is not charging the taxing entities any costs for the actual appraisal work related to the reappraisals.
At the request of Hess, the Commissioners Court extended the disaster declaration another 30 days to follow suit with what Governor Greg Abbott did as well as state and federal agencies involved in the disaster relief efforts.
Diane Lincoln, Mayor of the Town of Woodloch, just northeast of the intersection of State Highway 242 and Interstate 45, warned the Commissioners Court of the “potential scammers” who are trying to take advantage of Harvey/SJRA flooding victims. “One situation ended up becoming a federal incident,” Lincoln told the Commissioners about some sharp practices by a questionable contractor seeking work in Woodloch. Lincoln also suggested that the Emergency Management Department needed to provide better information to the public about flood relief and assistance.
Debris removal update
Debris removal trucks will continue to collect and haul away debris in the right-of-way whether it is on a curb or in a ditch until October 16, 2017. The deadline for debris removal services will be October 16, 2017. CrowderGulf, a private contractor which the County government hired, and the Texas Department of Transportation have numerous trucks which, to date, have collected 70,000 cubic yards of debris from residential properties most in the southern portions of Montgomery County. CrowderGulf, Tx-DOT, and the County hope to finish the first round of debris pickups across the entire County by the middle of next week.
Citizens may haul their own debris to County dump sites, the biggest of which is the site at the intersection of State Highway 242 and F.M. 1314 in Commissioners Precinct 4. Additionally, citizens who move their debris materials into the right-of-way along the edge of streets, whether in the curb or ditch, are to enjoy the County’s debris removal service.
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark noted, “We have volunteers to help elderly people with their debris.”
Hess, Noack, and Clark emphasized that the public should be aware that debris removal services will end on October 16, 2017.
Noack explained that “our residential debris dump site in Precinct 3 will close for good on Sunday, October 1, 2017, at 5 p.m.” The Precinct 3 site is located at 1130 Pruitt Road near Noack’s Commissioner’s barn.
The Commissioners Court voted to increase the contract of Tetra Technologies to $350,000 for public health and safety site assessments and for debris monitoring services.
Hess and the County government are working to comply with federal regulations so that they County government may receive 100% reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the costs the County incurred in cleanup and recovery from the Harvey/SJRA flooding. At this point, the Montgomery County government is paying for the costs associated with Harvey/SJRA flooding out of the “fund balance,” which is the accumulated carryover of County funds which the County government never spent but collected in taxes anyway.