Rebuttal to Keith Self’s Objections to the County Bond Proposal

By Jeff Cheney | On

On November 6, 2007 the citizens of Collin County will have the opportunity to approve a 328.9 million dollar bond program, divided into three parts:

Transportation $235.6 million
Facilities $ 76.3 million
Open Space $ 17.0 million
Total $328.9 Million

This bond program has been developed by three county-wide citizens committees and approved for the November ballot by the Collin County Commissioners Court.

You are urged to support all three parts as they will provide significant benefits throughout Collin County without a county tax rate increase or an adverse impact on the County’s AAA bond rating.

Commissioner Self was the only County Commissioner to oppose the County Bond Proposal. Below are the 9 points that Judge Self has listed on his website to oppose the bond proposal. I have also included my comments to each point below.

1) Three out of four taxpayers will actually receive less money from the county match than they pay in county taxes into the bond funds. Those taxpayers who lose money are from large AND small cities.

The assumption Mr. Self is making here is that all cities should receive a pro rata share of funds based on the County taxes their City has generated. This is an illogical assumption. Below is the proposed distribution of the County funds:

Mr. Self is absolutely correct in the disparity of the distribution. However, the distribution of the funds is based on the County’s most pressing needs to integrate our regional transportation system. Those appointed to research the County transportation system indicated that Frisco has the greatest need for improved major thoroughfares at this time, followed by Plano, McKinney, Allen, and then Wylie and Melissa. Remember also that the cities must match the County funds so with this proposal, each of these cities will also be contributing the most to our County transportation needs.

It is important to note that the County is responsible for developing a regional transportation system. There is no doubt that Frisco residents benefit from the Plano infrastructure and Prosper residents will benefit from the roads built in Frisco. The County has successfully been doing this for decades. In some bonds, one City may get more of their pro rata share, in others they get less. It depends on the growth of the County and the most pressing needs for a regional transportation system, regardless of which City the roads fall within.

2) The same taxpayers pay both portions of this “match” – county match and city match. The county match is not free money.

This is a true statement. Nobody is claiming this is “free money.” It is the process of allocating regional resources to benefit the County as a whole, rather than having the Cities fight for themselves with no incentivized cooperation. I am not sure how this point benefits his proposal. We all know we will have to pay for these roads one way or another under any proposal, they are never “free.”

3) The bond “partnership” is actually just a single source of taxes – you.

see comments to #2

4) Our county government is growing too fast; 16% growth in debt payment this year and 13% estimated average growth in maintenance and operations from 2006 for six years.

Collin County certainly is growing fast! This is why we need these roads built now! This bond package will not effect the tax rate for the County nor will it have an adverse effect on the County’s desired AAA bond rating.

5) The total bond package more than doubles our debt payment, from $33 million this year to a peak of more than $60 million.

See answer to #4. In addition, as Cities, Counties, or even States grow, their debt service will increase as well. This is the natural order of growth as there are more citizens to support and more roads to build. Of course, there are also more tax revenues to pay for this higher debt service due to a higher population and more economic development associated with the growth.

6) This bond debt will not be paid off until your small children have small children of their own.

By definition, this is how a bond issue works. The tax rate is predicted based on making the debt service payments over the term of the bond. Would Commissioner Self prefer to write a single check today to pay the roads and how would he fund that? This is meaningless propaganda.

7) Many of our smallest cities are penalized by this bond and receive little or nothing from it.

They receive much from this proposal. The regional transportation system is being developed which will ease commutes from the residents of all cities as they travel throughout the County. A few cities did not received funding from this bond program. This is because they did not submit a project for consideration.

8) The transportation pork proposal does not relieve congestion at the major chokepoints.

I fail to see how the proposed roads would not relieve congestion. See for yourself with this map of the proposals:

Commissioner Self wants to dump all of our resources into our state roads. The $235.6 million County proposal would not make a dent in these roads. Who then would pay for the proposed roads above? Of course, it would fall on the City. However, it would not be under the cooperation developed under the bond proposal. See my blog post on how the County Bond program incentivizes cities to cooperate in building a regional transportation system:

I asked Commissioner Self how, as our elected County representative, he would coordinate the cooperation among cities if we do not approve this bond. The only answer he could give is, “It’s not rocket science, I would pick up the phone and call.” Sorry, I am not betting the infrastructure of the County on Mr. Self calling the cities to facilitate the cooperation to build a seemless county system. I will favor the payment matching system that has been in place for decades that incentivizes cities to cooperate naturally.

9) And there is an alternate program already submitted to the state that will quickly start to relieve our congestion chokepoints if we fully fund it.

The roads targeted in the bond proposal had a requirement that they have the ability to start within 5 years to assure the project will have a relatively near term impact. When questioned by Frisco City Manager, George Purefoy, Commissioner Self could not give a response to the timelines on the roads he proposes to fund. It was certainly disconcerting when Mr. Purefoy was giving Mr. Self updates on why his date assumptions were unrealistic. These roads will take DECADES to build and are state and federal responsibilities. This bond proposal builds our local chokepoint roads NOW!

This “pass through funding program” is not funded and there are no guarantees we would be reimbursed once we built them. On top of having our County citizens pay the burden of our state and federal roads, they will still have to pay taxes to built the critical roads that this bond proposal addresses.

Sorry Commissioner Self, but your proposal does not add up. I urge Collin County residents to vote in favor on the Collin County Bond Proposal.

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