The Galveston County Commissioners Court on Tuesday will consider calling an $80 million bond referendum for voters to decide in November, with the bulk of the money slated for road projects.
If approved, commissioners will be spending the next three months selling voters around the county on the necessity of the projects that would be financed by the bond. The issue would be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
County commissioners have for months discussed possible projects to consider in the bond and solicited ideas from cities around the county for road construction projects. Commissioners reached consensus on an amount to consider during meetings with their financial consultant on Tuesday and Friday.
“I think we can support $80 million without any problems to the tax rate,” County Judge Mark Henry said this week.
The county judge and commissioners have said they want a bond amount that won’t require a tax rate increase. To avoid increasing the existing rate of 55.2 cents per $100 taxable property value, the county would have to transfer money from the operating budget to the debt service budget.
An $80 million bond would not have an effect on the 2018 tax rate, according to testimony from the county’s bond adviser. But it would require about 2 cents of the tax rate be shifted in fiscal year 2019, assuming a 3 percent growth in the county’s tax base, said Jim Niederle, the county’s financial consultant.
In the past five years, the growth in total property values in the county has been about 4.5 percent, Niederle said. If that trend continues, the impact on the 2019 rate would be less, Niederle said in meetings Tuesday.
The commissioners will vote during a regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting on whether to call the election, about a week before the official deadline to call for November ballot items.
According to the certificate for order, commissioners would ask voters to dedicate about $56 million to road projects across the county. The county would also ask to authorize $18 million for county facilities and $6 million for flood control, according to the document.