When a government entity posts volumes of financial information online for public inspection, it can be daunting to sort through the mountains of material available. When it comes to long-term debt obligations, this can certainly be the case for those not schooled in government accounting methods or procedures.
For example, many folks don’t realize that when voters approve an overall amount on a bond election that the government entity may not necessarily go out and sell those bonds right away – especially when it entails long-term infrastructure projects like roadways. Sometimes the county may “match” funds with cities and towns, and the county wait to sell a portion of bond amounts until a number of our local partners are ready to being their projects.
That said, we thought it might help to post some details about Collin County’s debt that could, at a minimum, explain what we owe and what those funds went to develop. Our
County Auditor put the following graphs and charts together for this page from his resources and with information from our
Budget & Finance Department. We want to mention that the graphs and figures below are as of February 2016. Also, we realize that many of the graphs here cover large periods of time, so if you need a closer look, please click on the graphs for a larger view.
If you’d like to see how the State Comptroller’s
Texas Transparency website factor Debt-per-Capita, please visit their
Debt-At-A-Glance website. The page has debt calculations for state, county and city government, plus similar data for school districts and community college districts.
The following explanation of Collin County’s capital financing guidelines starts at
Page 36 of the Executive Summary in ourFY2017 Adopted Budget.
The County’s legal limits on debt are stated in the
Constitution of the State of Texas, Article 3, Section 52. It says that by an affirmative vote of two-thirds majority of the voting qualified voters of the county, the County may issue bonds or otherwise lend its credit in any amount not to exceed one-fourth of the assessed valuation of the real property of the County. The County must set up a sinking fund and levy and collect taxes to pay the interest and principal of the annual required debt service until the debt is retired.
The County's debt limit is 25% of assessed value of real property. The assessed value of the real property in the County is
$99.4 Billion and one quarter of this amount is
$24.9 Billion. The total debt of the County is
$395.6 Million to be paid over the years until 2036. Both bond-rating agencies have rated the County the highest possible, with Moody's Investors Services rating Collin County their highest rating of AAA and Standard and Poor's rating the County at AAA.
The County relies on the advice of a professional outside financial advisor and its own financial officers about when it is advisable to issue new debt. A guiding principle on the issuance of new debt is the desire of the County to continue to maintain AAA bond ratings. We are well within the permissible limits set out by these advisors to continue with this goal.
Collin County has four types of
active capital projects: transportation infrastructure, open space, facilities and information technology.
Transportation projects consist of rebuilding bridges and improving roads on the County’s Thoroughfare fair plan. The majority of road projects are participation projects with cities or the state to assist with funding roads within their jurisdiction. Open space projects are a partnership with cities to assist with the improvements of land for public use for parks and recreation. Neither transportation infrastructure nor open space projects impacted the 2015 budget.
Long-Term Debt Liabilities: Below outlines Collin County’s debt obligation by fiscal year for the last 10 years.
Long-Term Debt Liabilities by Category: This chart takes the overall debt obligation and breaks it down into the three main infrastructure categories that we sells bonds to fund.
Existing Debt Obligations: This graph takes a look at the annual payout schedule of our current, existing debt. This would exclude any future voter-approved bond elections to raise funds for further infrastructure expansion.
Past Bond Election Summaries
Again, more details are available on these from our
FY2017 Adopted Budget.
On Nov. 3, 2003, Collin County called a bond election totaling $229 million on three propositions. Proposition One was to issue bonds in the amount of $142 million for construction, maintenance and operation of roads and turnpikes throughout the County, including participation in the cost of joint State Highway and joint city projects. Proposition Two was to issue bonds in the amount of $11 million for the purpose of acquiring and improving land for park and open space purposes, including joint county-city projects. Proposition Three was to issue bonds in the amount of $76 million to acquire, construct, improve, renovate and equip juvenile and adult detention facilities, including court facilities and acquisition of land.
The voters of Collin County approved all three propositions. The schedule for the construction of the projects approved in this bond election was coordinated with the County’s Debt Management Plan to ensure that projected capital funding requirements were consistent with plans for the sale of authorized General Obligation bonds and tax notes.
On Nov. 6, 2007, Collin County called a bond election totaling $328.9 million on three propositions. The
Commissioners Court set the funding for the 2007 Transportation Bond at $235.6 million, the Facilities Bond at $76.3 million and the Parks & Open Space Bond at $17 million.
The voters of Collin County approved all three propositions. The schedule for the construction of the projects approved in this bond election will be coordinated with the County’s Debt Management Plan to ensure that projected capital funding requirements are consistent with plans for the sale of authorized General Obligation bonds and tax notes. Funding for these three programs was set based on anticipated bond capacity necessary without raising County taxes.