County Judge Craig Doyal said he is confident the county can handle the $350 million bond debt with no tax rate impact - because it already has accomplished something similar over the previous decade.
County commissioners, based on the recommendation from a citizens committee,
have called for an election May 9, asking voters to consider a proposed $350 million bond election to fund road work. Early voting started Monday.
"Some citizens have raised concerns about adding that debt, but we've already proved we can manage it effectively," Judge Doyal said.
Over the past decade, the county added $363 million in new debt - even as it cut the tax rate, not just once, but four times.
The county over that decade dropped the tax rate four times, cutting it from $0.4963 to $0.4767.
"We have handled our debt in a responsible manner," Judge Doyal said. "We've done it before, and we'll continue those same sound fiscal practices."
Judge Doyal said one of the reasons the county was able to add debt while dropping the tax rate was because of the county's economic development program - aided in part by its commitment to build new roadways, as evidenced by the county's successful 2005 road bond program.
"Economic development and commercial business growth is the best way to grow our tax base and lower the tax rate for homeowners," Judge Doyal said.
"Taking care of our core services - such as roads - is one of the ways we can recruit corporate relocations; another is our highly effective tax abatement program. Already, as some of those abatements expire, we are seeing a surge in commercial revenue to add to our tax base."
In addition, the county will not sell all $350 million in debt at once -- but add it in increments over time, while it phases out other debt -- thus avoiding an impact on the tax rate.
Judge Doyal said he will work with commissioners to control spending and do everything possible to continue to reduce the burden on taxpayers.
"We've cut the tax rate four times in 10 years; and we'll continue to look for opportunities to lower our tax rate."
"While I cannot tell citizens how to vote, I do want to encourage everyone to go to research the issues, know the facts, and go to the polls."
More information about the road bond, including election time, dates and locations, is available at our new interactive Web site.