The Kingwood Service Association (KSA) Board of Directors approved a 2018 budget of $979,947 at its fourth quarter board of directors meeting Oct. 19. The budget includes all anticipated routine expenses and contingency funds for calendar year 2018. Total operating expenses are expected to be $2,982 higher than in 2017, representing only a .31 percent increase over the last year. However, it does not include the recovery expenses resulting from Hurricane Harvey which are being incurred now and will continue well into 2018.

To handle the anticipated storm-related recovery costs, the board approved Hurricane Harvey Recovery Funds of up to $400,000, to be drawn down from the existing KSA Capital Asset Reserve Fund. The money will be transferred into the appropriate operating accounts as expenses are actually approved and incurred. Board President Dee Price of Sand Creek assured the board that the Capital Asset Reserve Fund, which is maintained for these kinds of capital investment requirements, has adequate money in it to cover these expenses as needed. The fund is replenished on a continuing basis as part of the annual budgeting process. $108,022 was paid into the fund in 2017. In 2018, the approved budget allocation is $110,366.

In addition, the board approved $81,000 to be carried over from the 2017 budget to 2018 for the renovation of landscaping at the Northpark Drive entryway. These funds will not be spent until after completion of traffic improvements at the Highway 59-Northpark Drive entrance into Kingwood. Price explained the reason for the carryover.

“We have been budgeting for this. It is the third year to budget for it and we have two years to carry over. We anticipate the entryway (landscaping) will be pretty well wiped out so the money is to renovate and restore it,” Price said. She explained that when money is not spent in the year for which it is approved, it is no longer available; hence the need to carry the funds over when one know the expense is coming but does not know when.

A board member raised the question of what KSA should do about dredging the boat launch area in River Grove Park since it is not in the approved budget or estimates for Harvey Recovery.

“We don’t know,” Price said, and explained that it may be January before the Parks Committee can begin to address the issue. “Basically our boat dock channel is completely filled in and the sand bar is all the way across and blocks us off from the channel. It could cost us at least $200-$300,000 to dredge it, if it can be viably dredged at all,” she said. Price noted that in order to make this decision, KSA needs input from the San Jacinto River Authority about what it can or cannot do in getting access to the main river channel. The Parks Committee is planning to address the issue as soon as all the needed information is available.

As the meeting drew to a close, Barbara Hillburn of Kingwood Lakes asked to speak about her experience in Kingwood Lakes Village during the Harvey flooding and how it was handled. She described the nightmare of 80 percent of the homes in her area being flooded and evacuated. She highlighted the plight of the elderly and the heroic efforts of all, including first responders, neighbors and volunteers who all came together during the crisis. However, she also described the apparent lack of real and detailed planning that the disaster exposed, including the fact that no one seemed to have any idea where to immediately take those who had just been rescued, especially the elderly and disabled during the height of the crisis as they were literally being pulled out of their homes and the rising water.

“We just started shuttling them to all the churches,” she said, paused and then continued. “We can improve on those things and I’ll be glad to work closely with you, Dee (Price), and get something to our community so that we can better rely on each other and be even stronger than we were.”

After a short discussion about past emergency planning efforts in Kingwood and surrounding areas, including Humble and Harris County, board members agreed that the KSA Public Safety Committee was the appropriate place to raise the issue from a KSA standpoint. If new and/or revised preparedness plans are developed, the Public Safety Committee will be the KSA designated point of contact in working with other agencies and organizations.

The next quarterly board of directors meeting is next year on Jan. 17. Meetings are open to the public and are at the South Woodland Hills Community Center, 2030 Shadow Rock.

Bruce Olson
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I have been married since 1970 to Kerry, my best friend and a great Australian woman. I served and survived Vietnam in the U.S. Air Force. I fought forest fires in the summer while in college, where I earned a B.A. in economics from Oklahoma State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas. I retired from Continental Airlines. I have a son and two granddaughters in Kingwood, and a daughter and two grandsons on a farm near Mazabuka, Zambia. I am now enjoying life as a grandfather, Tribune correspondent and Humble ISD guest teacher when not traveling to Zambia or Australia.