Flood control district meeting today; Meeting follows heavy June flooding

The Cameron County Flood Control District holds its first meeting at 8:30 a.m. today in the second-floor courtroom of the Cameron County Courthouse/Dancy Building, 1100 E. Monroe St.

Rep. Alex Dominguez’s H.B. 4726 establishing the district was passed by the Legislature in May. Today’s agenda focuses on steps necessary to making the district a functional entity. Agenda items include discussion and possible action on election of executive officers, setting up a district office, adopting a code of ethics, opening a bank account and hiring a district manager and staff.

The agenda also calls for discussion and action on authorizing district staff to hire a consultant for a survey of the district, the boundaries of which have yet to be determined. The survey would also identify flood-prone areas and map what the county possesses in terms of canals, drains, ditches, laterals, levees, etc., versus what needs to be built or improved.

“We really just want to see what’s out there,” said Pete Sepulveda Jr., interim county administrator. “That’s what we’re trying to find out.”

The survey will also map existing drainage districts and irrigation districts to differentiate them from the new flood control district. Probably less than half the county is covered by a drainage district, Sepulveda said, noting that drainage districts won’t be part of the new flood control district since they’re already charged with flood control.

However, irrigation districts are different and may end up as part of the flood control district in areas not covered by a drainage district, he said.

“We’re trying to verify that with the legislation,” Sepulveda said. “We’re going to have to see how that would pan out.”

The district is authorized to levy a tax to pay for maintenance and operations, though it won’t be known how much revenue would be generated until the boundaries are set and property valuation calculated, he said.

“It would be a great tool, because if we do in fact levy a tax and generate revenue then we can leverage that and try and get state and federal money,” Sepulveda said.

One of the agenda items for today’s flood control district meeting regards “adopting an order authorizing an election for a maintenance and operations tax and giving notice of said election.”

La Feria, Santa Rosa and the Tio Cano area were hit by heavy flooding in June. In a July 19 statement, County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. said the county is committed to addressing drainage problems in those and other areas affected by recent flooding.

He and county commissioners this week “will consider several immediate options to address the flooding issues as well as the organization of the flood control district,” according to the statement.