April in Texas is a great time of year. Baseball is back, warmer weather is in the air, bluebonnets are growing, and cities are pushing massive bond packages. Ok maybe that last one isn’t some thing all that great, but it typically happens this time of year. The cities around Texas are trying to convince their voters to approve bloated bonds that sadly go unnoticed by the average citizen.
Fort Worth has a new bond package up this year totaling nearly $400 Million, which is 43% of it’s current outstanding debt obligations. These numbers are also only the debt amounts that are secured by property taxes. There are many more debt obligations the cities have than these bonds. Right now however Fort Worth is trying to justify this new bond by first off making it sound doom and gloom if it isn’t approved. These bonds are always “needed” and usually come with some kind of public safety factor to them. This is more of a scare tactic to coerce people into voting for it than anything else.
Fort Worth is also making the same tired statements that this bond will not raise property taxes if approved. If you’re not paying attention to your government, this sounds great! It’s almost like free money isn’t it? To those that pay attention and really break down what they are saying, know that they are lying.
The city debt rate is being reduced because of the old bonds getting paid off. The city then knows that if they can get these new bonds approved, the rate will not decrease, instead they will stay the same and typically go unnoticed. It’s really more of an accounting gimmick than anything. To those of us that pay attention however, we will realize that the rate is supposed to go down, that’s simply how paying off debt works. If they just replace the bonds being paid off with new bonds, they are actually raising the rate.
Don’t let your city fool you, research your bond packages. Especially ask questions if you hear them claim that taxes will not go up. Local debt in Texas is climbing at unsustainable rates, and we need to be on guard for this. I encourage everyone to get out and fight their cities on the need for these bonds, push back and get your council members to answer the hard questions. The future generations of Texans will thank you for your work against these out of control bonds.