Poll Question: Should the Commissioners Court proceed with a bond election this November or delay until we can dedicate bond money to specific projects?

Reader Poll: Two On-Ramps to Highway Funding

Everyone on the Commissioners Court agrees: we must continue to press forward with the vision to build major highways to keep our rapidly growing community and commerce moving. The decision we must make is how to press forward.

One of the challenges we face in making such a decision is that we don’t yet know which of our priorities will be ready to build first.

Although US 380 is our highest priority, the TxDOT study results required will not be available until next April—almost a year from now. Also, a new major challenge on SH 78 was only identified within the past month.

On Monday, the Commissioners Court will have a discussion on two possible options:

  1. Call a transportation bond election for November, without having a clear plan in place for how those tax dollars will be spent.

Or

  1. Delay the bond election one year, until we can tell you how we will spend your tax dollars. In the interim, we would use our surplus tax dollars currently in the bank to cover highway development expenses until the delayed bond election.

The portion of our surplus available for budgeting is about $100 million dollars. That’s how much we can pull out to tide us over until we’re able to hold a vote. Plus the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) has some funds available for development work.

Will that amount be enough to get us up-and-running in the next 18 months? We’ll find out Monday, when the Engineering staff gives us their estimates.

Keep in mind, we are talking about surplus tax dollars you have already paid to the county. And the rating agencies require us to spend those surplus funds on major one-time expenses, like new buildings or major highways. Using our that money to help fill a great need like highway projects is an excellent way to rebalance our excessive surplus.

At the same time, moving those surplus tax dollars into the active budget in September would be a big deal. Adding $100,000,000 into a General Fund budget that is currently $195,000,000 would look like a huge budget increase. Currently the surplus funds are “out of sight, out of mind”, but moving it into the General Fund brings it into stark visibility.

This is a huge decision for elected officials to make, one that will require excellent communications with our constituents in order to understand the dynamics of the move.

I am personally hesitant to ask you for a half billion dollars without knowing what we will spend it on, but I want to hear from you. Should the Commissioners Court proceed with a bond election this November or delay until we can dedicate bond money to specific projects? Click here to give your input.

Monday afternoon at 1:30pm, you can click here to view our live discussion with the Engineering staff.