The almost year-long rumor that a road bond could be on the horizon for the city of Midland was recently confirmed by Council Member J. Ross Lacy, who told the Midland Reporter Telegram he plans to place a $195 million bond on the November ballot – the largest in the city’s history.
Road maintenance and repair has long been a hot button issue in Midland. However, the city’s recent failed attempt to pass a special-purpose 4B sales tax to expand and renovate parks further elevated the conversation, with many residents criticizing the city for prioritizing wants over needs, such as roads.
Now, instead of adopting a sales tax to expand parks, voters will have the option of increasing their property tax rate – to the extent of 4 cents for every $100 million of debt issued – in order to repair roads, plus water and sewage lines.
Lacy notes that the alarming size of the bond is due to the deteriorating state of Midland’s road and water infrastructure – something that he says could have been avoided if past city councils had paid to properly maintain them.
A study done in 2016 showed approximately 30 percent of the city’s roads have a paving index below 50, meaning a simple repair wouldn’t suffice and reconstruction is likely needed. According to Lacy, should the bond pass in November, construction would start as early as March of 2018.
Turnout for the bond election is hard to predict given the results of the last two government-led initiatives. In October, Midland ISD’s tax increase election faced a nasty defeat, only to be followed by a failed city-led 4B election in May. Observers might say this is a reflection of the community’s general distrust towards local government – a sentiment undoubtedly echoed throughout the nation and seen firsthand during President Trump’s campaign (hence the traction of the “drain the swamp” mantra).
Time will tell if the third time is the charm.