Bonds, Bonds, Everywhere Bonds – Part II

During the spring, this blogger let you know that bonds were high on the agenda for multiple local governmental entities. Now, we are moving closer to reality.

HISD publicly floated their bond consideration in the news this week while Metro has truly stepped up their game.

HISD reported on what they have been able to do with their last bonds, talking about how many schools have been renovated and how much more needs to be done. Their bond package would result in “just a small tax increase”. Voters may be willing to invest in education but voting for anything that indicates we might have to pay more is always challenging. We’ll watch this one closely and keep you posted. Board action has not yet been taken.

METRO, however, is in a very different place. In 2003, we voted that by 2012 we would evaluate the General Mobility Payments (GMP) that are paid to cities and the county as a percentage of the METRO tax collection. These monies are supposedly dedicated to road maintenance to improve mobility.

When the writers of that referendum posed the question and considered the deadline, they presumed that 5 new light rail lines would be built by now or well under way. Unfortunately, that has not happened for a complexity of reasons. Now, those who support METRO keeping the GMP monies have to make the case that the dollars are needed for more transit when voters have yet to see a single line expansion from what they approved in 2003. Granted, three lines are well under construction but they are in the peak pain period of causing great inconvenience to commuters.

The additional two lines that were approved by voters in 2003 are currently off the table for funding reasons.

The METRO board has yet to adopt language for the ballot but METRO staff and a few Board members are proposing a compromise that will allow voters to decide to keep the payments flowing at current levels frozen in 2014. Anything above the 2014 levels would go to METRO’s transit goals.

Both rail and anti-rail supporters seem dissatisfied with the solution. The GMP recipients are unhappy and so are strong rail supporters.

This one will continue to be discussed and we’ll watch it closely.

Meanwhile, rumor still holds that the City plans to propose a bond election as well as Houston Community College. Once the City completes their budget process, we will likely hear more about their plans.

Bonds, bonds everywhere a bond on the 2012 ballot.

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