The Harris County Commissioners Court is considering whether to put a $1 billion bond measure on the November ballot to fund a variety of public safety, transportation, and flood control initiatives. This comes on the heels of the Court passing a $2.5 billion bond in 2018 for flood control, and an $850 million bond in 2015 for roads, parks, and flood control as well.
One factor that may affect whether the proposal moves forward is voters’ reaction to the anticipated tax increase, especially with the possibility of a severe economic downturn looming. According to the Houston Chronicle:
“To pay debt service on the bonds, the measures would result in a property tax increase of one penny per $100 of assessed value, according to the County Administrator’s office, assuming a 25-year payoff period. That would mean a $27 tax increase in the first year for the owner of a $340,000 home, the median value in Harris County, with a standard 20 percent homestead exemption.”
If voters aren’t dissuaded by the prospect of paying higher taxes in tough times, then they might be dismayed with the level of debt that Harris County already carries. According to the Bond Review Board, its debt totaled more than $5.3 billion in fiscal year 2021. The proposed bond would further bloat Harris County’s already mounting debt.
With inflation elevated, taxes high and economic prospects dim, Harris County’s bond package would likely be a tough sell with voters.