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We have witnessed how the expansive reliance on government institutions has created the $17 trillion fiscal mess in Washington, which is $11 trillion higher than in 1997.

Less conspicuous, however, is the massive debt burden amassed by local governments here in Texas, driven primarily by city and school bonds.

On November 5th, localities across the state will ask voters to approve a combined $6.7 billion in new debt (via bonds), hoping to take advantage of an uniformed electorate and single-digit turnout.  Without opposition, budgetary incompetence and the local debt addiction will continue unencumbered.

Perhaps that’s one of the main reasons why Texas has the second-highest, per person local debt in the nation…?

Thanks to the work of the State Comptroller and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, taxpayers are learning more about Texas’ local debt epidemic, and have access to new transparency tools.

Local officials often employ a variety of clever advertising gimmicks.  They mail glossy flyers with fancy renderings (financed with taxpayer dollars) that both understate project costs and overpromise benefits.

Governments also finance PR campaigns conducted by paid contractors who design, promote, and profit from the bond package, eventually overseeing the construction of the projects themselves.

As reported by the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the larger the debt package, the more money they make!

Other tactics, as seen in the Plano ISD TRE video, are nothing more than a manufactured crisis, using the threat of teacher layoffs to guilt voters into approving tax increases.  Unfortunately, they often fail to tell voters the whole truth.  In the case of Plano ISD, the accumulation of massive debt, not state spending cuts, is the structural cause of their financial problems.

To learn more about local debt in your area, visit www.tellthetruthtexas.org.  

Waste Watch recently posted an overview of several school bonds on the November 5th ballot.  Below is a partial list of 14 propositions affecting taxpayers in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area:

Independent School Districts (Source: Texas Bond Review Board)

Azle ISD: New Debt Proposal: $20,000,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $31,650,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Student: $5,353

Current Tax Burden: $1.19/$100 of Property Value

 

Denton ISD: New Debt Proposal: $312,000,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $1,134,000,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Student: $44,105 (State Avg: $13,500)

Current Tax Burden: $1.53/$100 of Property Value

 

Fort Worth ISD (Click HERE to read our recent article):

New Debt Proposal: $489,700,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $975,700,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Student: $11,700 (State Avg: $13,500)

Current Tax Burden: $1.32/$100 of Property Value

 

Graford ISD: New Debt Proposal: $7,500,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $4,920,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Student: $15,575 (State Avg: $13,500)

Current Tax Burden: $1.07/$100 of Property Value

 

Granbury ISD: New Debt Proposal: $84,975,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $82,945,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Student: $12,741 (State Avg: $13,500)

Current Tax Burden: $1.15/$100 of Property Value

 

*Plano ISD: Proposing Tax Increase (aka TRE)

For detailed information on this issue, please refer to our recent articles:

Plano ISD: Massive Debt May Lead to Higher Taxes

What Plano ISD Doesn’t Want You To Know

 

Lovejoy ISD: New Debt Proposal: $75,700,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $254,580,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Student: $69,978 (State Avg: $13,500)

Current Tax Burden: $1.54/$100 of Property Value

 

Mineral Wells ISD: New Debt Proposal: $25,000,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $53,800,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Student: $15,486 (State Avg: $13,500)

Current Tax Burden: $1.24/$100 of Property Value

 

Municipalities (Source: Texas Bond Review Board)

Bedford (Read Bob Stewart’s Letter to the Editor published in FWST):

New Debt Proposal: $3,200,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $69,070,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Resident: $1,470 (State Avg: $2,400)

Current Tax Burden: $0.49/$100 of Property Value

 

Burleson: New Debt Proposal: $20,390,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $146,745,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Resident: $4,000 (State Avg: $2,400)

Current Tax Burden: $0.71/$100 of Property Value

 

Carrollton: New Debt Proposal: $75,000,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $235,440,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Resident: $1,976 (State Avg: $2,400)

Current Tax Burden: $0.62/$100 of Property Value

 

*Garland: Proposing Tax Increase (aka TRE)

Total Debt Outstanding: $1,114,000,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Resident: $4,912 (State Avg: $2,400)

Current Tax Burden: $0.71/$100 of Property Value

 

Keller: (Note: This section is undergoing updates)

New Debt Proposal: $8,000,000

Current Tax Burden: $0.44/$100 of Property Value

 

Krum: New Debt Proposal: $1,900,000

Total Debt Outstanding: $7,305,000

Current Outstanding Debt/Resident: $1,757 (State Avg: $2,400)

Current Tax Burden: $0.64/$100 of Property Value

Early voting is currently underway this week and next week, with Election Day on November 5th, 2013.

UPDATE: Since publishing this article, an error was identified regarding Keller’s total debt outstanding and current tax rate.  The tax rate has been adjusted to reflect the actual rate, while the debt figures are currently being researched.  We apologize for the unintentional error.