"County Judge talk includes recovery, economic development" by: Mike Reddell

   Matagorda County’s costs arising from Brazoria County’s separation from the 23rd District Court are about $145,000, County Judge Nate McDonald said at his state of the county address last week.
   A bill was approved earlier this year allowing Brazoria County to form its own district and to split from the 23rd District’s longtime trio of counties, leaving only Matagorda and Wharton counties.
   The additional burden was foreseen, but McDonald said that instead of an additional $10,000 to $15,000, the total so far is $145,000.
   “We have to pay for his staff and for visiting judges. The costs are real and there,” McDonald said of Matagorda County’s new share of the 23rd District costs.  
      The discussion was part of McDonald’s explanation of the county’s recently approved fiscal 2019-2020 budget.
   The judge also talked about his role as the county emergency management director, noting that Amanda Campos is his emergency management coordinator.
   “We have to carry out the disaster response,” the judge said.
   He credited STP emergency training in helping the county’s Hurricane Harvey response.
   Recovering from Hurricane Harvey will take a long time, he said.
   And receiving $50 million-plus in funding from FEMA for Harvey damage won’t happen next year, he predicted.
   The judge pointed out the county is spending the last of Ike funding on Palacios projects.
   “And that was in 2008 – 11 years ago.”
   Since FEMA will take some time before they arrive, Matagorda County has to pay, in the meantime, Harvey-related road damage and for losses to the River Oaks Subdivision.
   “It’s not enough,” he said, but the county will apply for grants to help those property owners and will see Corps of Engineers assistance to fortify Harvey-caused eroding Colorado River banks near River Oaks.
   McDonald also discussed breakwater efforts through GLO and the Corps to address the erosion of Sargent Beach.
   Studies have identified possible measures and funding from the Deep Horizon disaster, he said.
   Economic development was another topic that McDonald brought up.
   There is a major new project coming up, the judge said.
   “It’s being worked out,” he said of a project that could total $6 billion. 

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