The purpose of this column is to do two things. First, I want to provide you with accurate facts about the three upcoming bond issues to be voted on with the rest of ballot issues in the Nov. 3 election.
Second I am in favor of all three of these issues and I want to encourage everyone to vote in favor of these very important initiatives.
Some would consider this a political issue; I do not. I consider it more of an issue of the informed versus the uninformed, but mostly I would consider this a faceoff between those whose glasses are half full versus those whose glasses are half empty. What I have seen and heard from people opposed to these projects is first of all voodoo mathematics, and second, I believe these people for their own sake would continue to be satisfied with 70% of our children in our school system being on the subsidized lunch program and graduating another senior class into a community with a one dimensional economy that is not providing upwardly mobile jobs.
In other words socially engineered poverty is okay as long they get their way.
I firmly believe we are going to have inevitable growth in our community. This growth I believe can lead to more and better paying jobs while at the same time expand our tax base so more people are paying, thus lessening the burden on each individual.
Growth is necessary for any community to survive. Next year without any new initiatives every municipal government entity will have higher costs. You see that policeman we all admire is going to want a raise or he is going to go to work in another community that so desperately wants his services. It’s as simple as that. The cost of talented people will always increase no matter what business you are in. No growth means we all have to pay more just to get the same level of services.
By expanding our tax base with a new micro-hospital that will feed into a larger healthcare facility in Corpus Christi we will no doubt attract higher paying jobs in the form of doctors, nurses, technicians and healthcare trained support staff and the key will be to get those people to live in our community.
Having not only adequate, but attractive amenities, such as an attractive and state of the art courthouse, will be part of the equation.
New roads and drainage projects will be just as important, and the money the county must put up will be matched by a multiple of 16 times by federal and state agencies. Simply put the $1.2 million we put up will result in more than $17.2 million in road and drainage improvements.
A bargain by any standard.
As a community with an older population a micro hospital is a first step toward securing adequate healthcare for our seniors. Unless we are competitive with healthcare facilities neither seniors or working age adults will opt to live here, versus the same type of community that can provide their families with a medical safety net.
In about 1955, when the old courthouse was constructed, there were about 4,300 residents in the county. Those visionaries at that time built a 30,000-sq.-ft. courthouse that lasted 65 years. If you used the same math today with 23,500 people in Aransas County, you would need to build a 164,000 square foot courthouse. No one is suggesting this, but I am suggesting that we do not need to build a courthouse just for our needs today, but instead one that will last us another 65 years. We want to be the visionaries future generations look back on and thank, just as we can extend a debt of gratitude to those who in 1955 were looking out for their great grandchildren’s futures.
I have visited with many business leaders in our community, many of which pay significant amounts in various local taxes, including property tax, and nearly everyone I have spoken to is in favor of all three of these projects.
We all believe Rockport/Fulton and Aransas County will become even more of a destination as forces outside of our control make our area more and more attractive each and every day. The business community here knows a bargain when we see it and building a new courthouse at effectively a 40% discount with added monies provided by federal grants and insurance monies is not a hard decision to make.
A smaller version of this building will only do two things. First it will be inadequate and when more space is needed the community will not be getting any discounts to add on, and given the current economic climate, there is no doubt borrowing money in the future will cost much more. Second, anyone that has ever built anything knows that costs go down as size goes up. Reducing the size of this building will only result in a higher cost per square foot. Soft costs such as architectural fee and construction management fees, which are mandated by the state, will be nearly the same no matter what size building we go with; so building smaller will not result in any great cost savings no matter how much you try to cut corners.
Finally, and most importantly, the cost analysis of these projects will actually result in net lowering of the tax rate, which means to do these things will not cost you a penny more, but actually a ½ penny less in the tax rate you are currently paying.
Those who seem to be sudden authorities on all things related to this matter are making it sound like these bonds are a stretch for our finances while ignoring the fact the bond rating agencies have stated we will maintain our Double A rating, which is only one notch below US Treasury debt, and within one notch of the coveted Triple A rating, with the issuance of these debentures.
The fact is we cannot afford not to do these projects.
I know that I speak for many others in our community when I ask you to please consider all the facts and vote in favor of all three of these bond issues.