High-Growth Texas Communities Face High Local Debt Loads

Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com

It’s not always easy to understand the complex world of local government finance, especially when involves local debt that spreads out across municipalities, counties and school districts.

In the Lone Star State, the Texas Tribune has assembled a helpful tool to explore the local debt landscape across the entire state, built upon data from Texas Bond Review Board that’s current as of August 2013.

Using a simple ZIP code search, you can get a better sense of all the debt obligations a particular locality has.

For instance, in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, population 82,480, the city has $213,225,000 in outstanding debt. Breaking that down, that debt snapshot includes $108,232,234 in interest, $321,457,234 in debt service and breaks down to $2,585 per resident—and that doesn’t include debt from Fort Bend County and the county school system.

To launch its local debt explorer tool, the Texas Tribune featured Jarrell, a small city north of Austin that has one of the highest local debt loads in the entire state—$10.3 million in total that works out to $9,928 per resident. In most Texas cities, the debt load works out to less than $1,000 per resident, according to the Tribune.

Why is Jarrell’s debt load so high? As the Tribune explains, it has to do with a wastewater treatment system and bad timing. But many Texas localities are facing severe debt situations as they try to keep up with increasing populations and the local services they need:

Jarrell’s story is an extreme example of the way hundreds of Texas communities are relying more on borrowing to handle basic public services. Over the last decade, local government debt has grown around the country, but Texas, with an economic performance in recent years that has outpaced the rest of the country, is a special case. Of the 10 largest states, Texas has the second-highest local debt per capita as cities and school districts have gone on a borrowing spree to maintain or expand amenities while not raising taxes.

Click around to explore local debt in Texas here.

NEWSLETTER

Get daily news from Route Fifty

Top stories on how innovation is driving smarter government across the country.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.