Commentary by James Quintero and Taylor Zavala
On Saturday, San Antonio will ask voters to approve a massive $850 million bond, split into 6 different propositions, including:
- Proposition 1: Streets, Bridges, & Sidewalk Improvements ($445.3 M)
- Proposition 2: Drainage & Flood Control Improvements ($139 M)
- Proposition 3: Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Improvements ($187.3 M)
- Proposition 4: Library & Cultural Facilities Improvements ($24 M)
- Proposition 5: Public Safety Facilities Improvements ($34.4 M)
- Proposition 6: Neighborhood Improvements ($20 M)
The city’s bond program is easily one of the largest in their history and raises legitimate concerns about the size and growth of their local debt load.
Already, the city of San Antonio’s debt totals more than $15.8 billion, according to the latest information made available from the Texas Bond Review Board. On a per capita basis, that amounts to a city-driven debt of $10,750 owed for every San Antonian. And, of course, that’s before the passage of the bond.
Source: Texas Bond Review Board
Adding another $850 million in new debt (principal only) will significantly increase the city’s red ink levels. And if the Legislature is successful in ending forced annexation, then city officials could soon lose one of their tools to spread the pain.
All of this makes Saturday’s election contests one of the state’s most interesting. With so much at stake, will voters let the city go for broke or will voters ask the city to do a better job with what it has and go back to basics? Only time will tell.