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 8/31/12
In fiscal 2012, counties held about $13.7 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 2012 ranged from zero in 77 counties to $6,875 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 8/31/12, the last day of fiscal 2012.
Source: Texas Bond Review Board