Municipal and County Bond Issues

Municipal bond issues are much like county bond issues.  Unless absolutely necessary voters should vote “No” on bond issues.

There are several important reasons why voters should vote “No” on any upcoming bond issues in municipal and/or county elections.  During the past five years more state and local taxpayer dollars were wasted than ever before.  It is occurring throughout the nation.

One of the easiest ways to increase local tax revenue is to raise property taxes.  In many states and counties homeowners watched helplessly as their property taxes sky-rocketed as high as 400 percent.

There are 3 primary methods of increasing municipal or county tax revenue:

– Increase the tax rate

– Increase property appraisal values

– Initiate road, school and other bond packages.

All the above actions will increase property taxes.

Then in some states, e.g., Texas, property owners watched helplessly again as much of those tax dollars were dispersed to other districts under the “Robin Hood” clause, whereby the school districts determined as “wealthy” were forced by the state to give tax dollars to “poor” districts.  Those lost dollars caused school districts to raise taxes even more, via one of the above methods.  In addition, several years ago districts like the Dripping Springs ISD Board voted to eliminate an optional district 20-percent homeowner exemption just after it voted to raise school taxes, thus being able to increase property taxes twice during a one-year period.  This caused many home sales and foreclosures in the area.

With all these unaffordable tax increases, homeowners started going into foreclosures, but that did not stop the drive for more tax revenue.  Special interests began working with local officials to pursue road and school bond packages.  These packages cause long-term debt and increase property taxes again.

Another dilemma is that during the past several years governors and state officials have pushed more and more responsibility of providing school revenue, services and fees onto local counties.  Consequently, taxpayers in cities and counties have been paying out more of their tax dollars while getting less and less back for their expenditures.

Now, counties and school districts are promoting more school bond package so that districts can expand to facilitate the ever-increasing population of families with children rapidly moving into the vicinity.   Other counties are feeling similar pressures.  While the problem is evident, the solution via selling bonds is NOT.   If voters approve bond issues, it will ensure that their property taxes will be raised once again.  At a time when home foreclosures are at the highest level ever, why would counties and districts opt to raise taxes again?  The reason is that responsibility is being pushed down-the-line from the state to the county and then onto local taxpayers.

The same is true of road bonds.  Transportation departments are crying that there is no money available; however, gas tax revenues have been frozen in most states for the past decade.  In addition, the revenues from fuel taxes are being diverted to other special interests instead of going to the building and maintenance of roadways as had been intended.  Case in point:  In Texas, 40 percent of all fuel tax revenues are diverted to other interests.  It is small wonder that with the freeze and diversion of revenue there is a “shortage” of tax dollars to build and maintain our roadways.

It is obvious will continue to look for ways to increase tax revenues and the easiest way to do so is by increasing property taxes.

More homes will be for sale, foreclosures will occur and more people will move to some other less-taxed areas.  While this reality truly may bother some lawmakers, they still are NOT resolving the real issue.  Both state and local counties need to bring in more revenue without continuing to overburden the middle and poor classes with increased property taxation.  Very few officials are focused on improving this economic plight.

So, what’s a voter to do? 

Voters must say “No” to all bond proposals and instead contact state and local officials in vocalizing their discontent and disagreement with the current mode of decision-making.  Voters must demand REAL solutions to REAL problems.  The revenue/taxation issue must be resolved without the “domino-effect” currently being promoted by officials.  United, we can make a positive change.  Voting for bonds will only postpone the inevitable and will make economic problems worse.  This ongoing economic curse will be the legacy we leave to our children’s children.