No to Midland Road Bonds
by Nelson Spear on October 26, 2017 at 4:30 PM
Let me begin with the statement that I think we need to do something about the road problems here in Midland.
However, I must oppose the upcoming bond for two reasons.
First, as pointed out by others, the $100 million principle will be met with an estimated $67.4 million interest payment to fix just part of Midland’s road problems. Thus, the real cost of the bond proposal is approximately $167 million for a limited number of projects. As per the City of Midland’s Debt Transparency Report, the City’s current ad valorem debt is approximately $200 million. Thus, if this bond issue is passed, Midland’s debt will be almost doubled. Many people like myself believe that adding that much debt to fix just part of a problem of any organization is not a sound business decision.
Second, Midland roads are a community asset used by all of us – property owners and non-property owners. Many Midlanders, including property owners and non-property owners, feel that certain community costs, such as roads, should be equally shared by those who use that community asset. Specifically, Midlanders feel that everyone should have some skin in the game when it comes to paying for community assets that are used by everyone. By adopting a property tax method of generating revenue for the roads, we would eliminate from participation part of the population who use the same roads just as much as property tax owners.
A better solution would be to use the quarter-cent sales tax that the city tried to pass as a “4B” tax, and instead place it on the ballot as a Road and Maintenance Sales Tax. With this solution, everyone would be paying for the roads – property owners and non-property owners. This solution would likely generate $10 million annually for the city and could be a $100 million boost to road projects in Midland over the course of ten years without costing property owners an estimated $67.4 million in interest.
If we add that proposed revenue with part of the $10 million that is already available through the city’s 4A “economic development” sales tax (also a quarter-cent), along with other funds semi-pledged by city leaders (which could be used for utility infrastructure), we could tackle our infrastructure issues on a pay-as-you-go basis without further burdening local property owners who are taxed enough already.
I realize this route may not produce results quite as quickly as a bond would. However, all agree that not even half of Midland’s road problems would be fixed with the current proposal. Fixing Midland’s road problems will be, and should be, an ongoing joint community effort.
I commend our city leaders for finally making roads a priority, but why should we place the sole burden on property owners when there is at least one other viable option? I cannot support almost doubling the city’s debt to fix just part of the city’s road problems; nor can I support a plan that does not equally share the burden of the costs of fixing Midland roads.
I urge all of us to vote “No” on the bond.