Transparency Lacking in County Mobility Vote
Tensions flared in this week’s Commissioners Court meeting as some were caught off guard with an agenda item from Commissioner Rodney Ellis. The item was to shift funding percentages for $33 million in mobility funding.
Ellis felt that the current allocation wasn’t equitable and wanted each precinct to receive 25 percent of the $33 million in funding.
Commissioners Jack Cagle and Steve Radack saw it differently.
Both argued that the growth in their precincts coupled with the underserved communities they represent meant that the allocations should remain as they were. Cagle noted that in unincorporated Harris County, taxpayers still pay taxes to Metro for transportation despite lacking Metro service in their area.
The bigger issue, though, was the lack of transparency surrounding the agenda item and subsequent vote.
Ellis’ posted item on the agenda led the Commissioners to believe they were going to discuss and possibly take action on mobility, they argued, but didn’t say anything about the action being such a major move as restructuring the percentages in the precincts.
“You campaigned on transparency, public engagement, and public input,” Cagle said to County Judge Hidalgo who was reluctant to postpone the vote on the item. Hidalgo added an amendment that enabled Ellis’ change to stay in place until a mobility study was completed.
Much of Ellis’ change seemed to stem from frustrations over past votes by the court, saying that they were often done “in the dark of night,” and to the detriment of his precinct.
Cagle and Radack voted against the item while Hidalgo, Ellis, and Garcia voted in favor of it. Cagle also asked the County Attorney to review the item and said he would seek an opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office because he felt that it was too vague and adequate public notice wasn’t given on their actions.