Bonds, Bonds, Everywhere a Bond

Last week, we pondered the national effect of a Obama/Romney Presidential election and how voter turnout might respond.

Civic leaders in the Houston region seem to think voter turnout will be higher and that makes for a good time to put bonds on the ballot.

Metro, the City of Houston, Houston ISD and Houston Community College are all considering placing bonds on this 2012 ballot. Most of these entities have been cautious about asking more from the voters over the last three years and have put many projects on hold.

They now need to move forward. In the case of Metro, it is essential that they go back to the voters based upon looming deadlines. The others are hoping to gain bond approval for capital expenditures.

We would provide more info but all of these discussions are still in the formative stage. No one of these entities has yet voted on bond language or approved it for the ballot.

Bonds are always tricky. If a public truly believes that the bond will provide tangible benefit, they will approve it. They often try to determine if they see potential benefit for themselves or their neighborhoods. For example, “will my neighborhood have a new school built?” If they do not see tangible benefit or the ballot wording is not clear, they will reject the bonds.

Our region is well-versed in bonds and has used them to transform our city. Minute Maid Park, Reliant, the George R. Brown, many renovated and new schools, expanded HCC campuses and of course, rail lines have been built with authorization of bonds by our citizens.

But is it too much for all of these entities to request support all at once? It’s not as if the governing bodies are plotting together to place a list of bond options on the ballot. They are each assessing their own needs and voter appetite.

In recent weeks, formative groups have begun raising funds for potential campaigns to support the discussed bond issues. And donors have woken up. After the fourth request for dollars, they have begun to recognize the overall issue.

Who will ultimately have their bond issues on the ballot? Definitely Metro, most likely the City of Houston and potentially HISD and HCC.

Hang in there voters. There will be plenty to ponder on your local ballot in 2012.

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