Local Debt: Few Vote, Everyone Pays

Historically, turnout in Texas’ political primaries has languished in the single-digits.  Considering that many races from within each party are uncontested, it’s somewhat understandable.  But countless, hotly contested Republican races this March still failed to entice more than eight percent turnout across our state’s largest counties.

It’s likely an even smaller minority will cast a ballot in May’s local elections.

This apathy is becoming increasingly expensive.  Unlike certain states like California, the Texas model of governance relies heavily on local taxing, spending and borrowing to finance government-provided services.  To the surprise of many, the local tax and debt burdens imposed on Texans are rapidly growing.  And while defenders of big government attribute this phenomenon to population growth, empirical data invalidates this claim.

An analysis conducted by the State Comptroller in 2012 found that, since 1992, property tax levies from public school districts grew 34% faster than population and inflation.  City levies; 57% faster. Counties; 88% faster.

Local elections aren’t just about electing candidates that will more prudently represent taxpayers.  Unlike the non-binding, policy propositions on the primary ballot, May’s election will include more costly debt proposals that have, in part, directly led to Texas’ growing debt epidemic.

In other words, your decision to vote in May will directly affect your family’s finances.

Texas already has the second-highest, local debt per capita, in the nation.  And while portions of some debt propositions can be justified, the size, scope and sheer number are disturbing.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining.

Low turnout and relatively small districts make local officials far more accountable to the public.  As we recently reported, the Garland ISD board quickly backed away from a $500 million bond this spring, after Lawrence Jones , teachers and other concerned citizens voiced their frustration with administration over personnel mismanagement and fiscal malfeasance.

A few loud, informed voices can make a tangible difference.

Below is a list of debt propositions in the DFW area that have already been approved by their respective councils and trustees, and are set to appear on the May, 2014 ballot. Most of your neighbors will be unaware that such a proposition is even on the ballot.

Remember, regardless of who votes, everyone pays!

To learn more about local debt in your area, visit Tell The Truth Texas.  For a complete copy of the Comptroller’s comprehensive debt reports released in 2012, visit www.texastransparency.org.

 

Arlington ISD

County: Tarrant

Bond Proposition Amount: $663,129,278

 

Argyle ISD

County: Denton

Bond Proposition Amount: $45,000,000

 

Farmers Branch City

County: Dallas

Bond Proposition Amount: $23,500,000

 

Fort Worth City

County: Denton/Tarrant/Wise

Bond Proposition Amount: $292,075,000

 

Frisco ISD

County: Collin/Denton

Bond Proposition Amount: $775,000,000

 

Greenville ISD

County: Hunt

Bond Proposition Amount: $72,275,000

 

Lovejoy ISD

County: Collin

Bond Proposition Amount: $75,750,000

 

 

Note: In an effort to educate the public in accordance with our mission, we welcome open communication with local officials and informed citizens regarding local propositions.  You may contact me directly by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 469.224.7727.

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Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg is the Vice President of Local affairs for Empower Texans and leads the Metroplex Bureau. He is a native North Texan, raised in Denton County. He studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and Constitutional history. Since 2008, Ross has been active in grassroots organizing, political campaigns and as an Irving ISD volunteer. He enjoys speaking to liberty-minded groups regarding the strategic effectiveness of state and local engagement. Ross is an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie.

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