Texas counties issue debt to finance a variety of projects from building new jails and purchasing technology upgrades to buying equipment and supplies to improving roads and bridges.
Texas counties can issue debt either by seeking approval through bond elections or, in some cases, by issuing certificates of obligation. Different factors including population growth, density and the number of other local government entities in the community providing services can affect the debt accrued by a county.
Map of Texas Counties’ Debt Outstanding
as of 8/31/11
In fiscal 2011, counties held about $13.3 billion in debt outstanding, a 7 percent share of all Texas local government debt. In the map at left, the darkest-colored counties hold the most outstanding debt per resident. Debt per resident in 2011 ranged from zero in 78 counties to $6,891 per resident in Garza County.
Note: There are many reasons counties take on debt repaid using taxes and/or user fees, including public infrastructure projects, sports facilities and performing arts venues, etc. This accounts for the variances in different counties’ debt. Debt data provided by the Texas Bond Review Board is as of 8/31/11, the last day of fiscal 2011.
Source: Texas Bond Review Board
Debt Per Water District
Texas’ water districts and water authorities are charged with providing water and services including conservation, wastewater treatment, flood control and other purposes. In 2011, they accounted for $30.3 billion or almost 16 percent of all outstanding local government debt in the state.
Debt Per Special Purpose District
Texas’ other special purpose districts support a variety of services including, toll roads, utilities, fire control and other purposes and accounted for nearly 8 percent of all outstanding debt held by Texas local governments in fiscal 2011. Hospital/health districts held less than 2 percent of debt outstanding. In total, special purpose districts and health/hospital district debt was $18.2 billion.
Note: Debt data provided by the Texas Bond Review Board is as of 8/31/11, the last day of fiscal 2011.
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts