Early voting begins October 23rd and while seven constitutional amendments will be voted on state-wide, it’s important to know what to expect on your local ballot.

City of Midland residents will have the opportunity to vote on a total of nine ballot propositions, including seven amendments to the state constitution and a $100MM property-tax supported road bond that will be presented as two separate propositions.

A summary of each constitutional amendment as well as the views and recommendations of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility can be viewed on EmpowerTexans.com or by clicking here.

Details regarding the road bond are outlined below and can also be reviewed on the road bond’s campaign website at www.midlandroadbond.com.

2017 Midland Road Bond

Two Propositions

State law requires this particular bond to be divided into two propositions on the ballot – “Proposition A” and “Proposition B” – which are comprised of the road and underground utilities components, respectively.

Proposition A would be funded in the amount of $74.09MM (excluding interest). These funds are intended for use in reconstructing and improving specific roads in the city. Streets that have been pre-designated for construction can be viewed on the road bond’s website.

Proposition B would be funded in the amount of $25.91MM (excluding interest), in which funds would be used to make improvements to the water and sewer infrastructure beneath the roads.

According to city officials, both propositions must pass for either to move forward.

The Costs Broken Down

If passed, the $100MM bond would be paid over a 25-year period, amounting to approximately $67.4MM in interest costs (based on a rate of 4.5%). For a resident owning a $250,000 home, this would result in an increase to their property tax bill of approximately $100 per year.

Funding will be issued for roads and utilities in $25MM increments over five years with 60 percent allocated for roads, 24.4 percent for utilities, 10.4 percent for ADA compliance, and 5.2 percent for engineering.

Other Funding Options

Cities in Texas have four options when it comes to funding major infrastructure projects: Property tax-supported bonds, special-purpose road maintenance sales tax, public-private partnerships (i.e. toll roads), and state infrastructure banks (a more flexible form of debt specific to highway infrastructure projects). With the latter two geared towards highway infrastructure, bonds and special-purpose sales tax revenue are the most common tools cities use to fund road projects.

Pros and Cons

By issuing a bond, municipalities are able to tackle large-scale projects relatively quickly. The downside, however, is that, by using tomorrow’s tax dollars to fund today’s projects, the borrowing involved comes at a high cost to property owners. In the case of Midland’s bond, an additional $67.4 million.

By utilizing a quarter-cent road maintenance sales tax, municipalities tackle infrastructure projects on a pay-as-you-go basis which means a longer timeline when compared to issuing bond debt. State law also allows the revenue to only be used on roads and sidewalks which, in Midland’s case, would require the city to find a different revenue stream to fund the underground utility repairs that are currently included in the bond proposal. The upside, however, is that a sales tax eliminates added interest costs and is paid for by consumers, rather than property owners. A mandatory four-year sunset period also allows voters to determine whether they want to continue the tax or not – creating an increased sense of accountability.

As of May 2016, it was reported that approximately 250 cities in Texas levy a quarter-cent sales tax specifically designated for roads.

Don’t Forget to Vote

Proponents of the road bond state that inadequate funding for road maintenance over the years is to blame for the potholes, “alligatoring,” and overall poor conditions of city roads, which are only worsened by extreme weather and increased “oil boom” traffic. There’s historically been little debate that infrastructure is vital to a city’s economy and must be addressed. The true debate, however, often comes down to funding.

To cast your vote for or against the road bond and seven constitutional amendments, visit the County Annex Building on 2110 N. A St. in Midland.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7 and early voting begins October 23.

Lauren Melear

Lauren Melear leads the West Texas Bureau of Texas Scorecard. When not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog, as well as cooking, working out, traveling to the hill country, and cheering on the fightin' Texas Aggies.