Incorporated cities, towns and villages in Texas can issue both tax-supported and revenue-funded debt. The majority of city debt — 57 percent — is backed by project revenue such as user fees.
Cities’ debt outstanding increased by 53.1 percent between 2003 and 2011. Cities held a larger share of local government debt outstanding than any other government type from 2001 until 2008 and in 2010.
Total debt issuances in fiscal 2011 were 19 percent higher than fiscal 2001. Fifty-three percent of the $8.9 billion debt issued in fiscal 2011 refinanced existing debt, taking advantage of lower interest rates.
Map of Texas Cities’ Debt Outstanding
as of 8/31/11
In fiscal 2011, cities issued $62.9 billion or 32.6 percent of all local government debt outstanding — behind only school districts, which held 33 percent.
In the map, the darkest circles represent the communities holding the most outstanding debt per resident. Debt per resident in 2011 ranged from $3.83 in the small town of Lyford in Willacy County to $21,900 in Westlake, a suburb of Fort Worth.
Notes: There are many reasons cities take on debt that will be repaid using taxes and/or user fees, including infrastructure projects, public utilities, sports facilities and performing arts venues, etc. This accounts for the variances in different cities’ debt. Dallas-Fort Worth Airport debt outstanding is reported on the Texas Bond Review Board's database as a stand-alone entity; it has been aggregated on each city's outstanding debt on this map - 60 percent to Dallas and 40 percent to Fort Worth.
Source: Texas Bond Review Board