Category: 2007 Bond Election
Almost since the first day after his election, County Judge Keith Self has tried to chart a new, more libertarian, populist course for the county commissioners court.
While the Collin County Observer has been generally critical of many of Judge Self's ideas, we have supported several of his initiatives, especially those relating to government transparency. From putting the county's checkbook online to broadcasting and recording county meetings, the Transparency Project has met its goal of making county government more accessible and accountable.
Self's efforts to rein in the cost of engineering contracts has also been supported by this blog. While we believe that it is not in the public interest to always go with the lowest bidder for road and bridge design, there has been too much of an 'insider' aspect to selecting engineering firms for large projects.
The scrutiny that resulted has reduced the cost of engineering service contracts to Collin County taxpayers.
However, far and away the most important issues facing the citizens of this county have to do with the growth of the county and the need for roads and more efficient transportation infrastructure. And on these issues, our County Judge is, well... nuttier than a Corsicana fruitcake
Collin County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. Our highways are all too frequently gridlocked - limiting growth potential, costing taxpayers uncounted millions in lost productivity and adding tons of exhaust to our already filthy air.
Yet one of Self's first public stances after taking office was to oppose the 2007 County Bond Program.
Among local elected officials, he stood alone. All 4 commissioners campaigned in favor of the bonds, which were overwhelmingly approved (2 - 1) by the voters.
Self wanted the county to use "pass through financing" from TxDOT to finance large construction projects, leaving the cities to pay for their own smaller secondary road improvements. His plan was a bad idea then and was soon proven to be a very, very bad idea, when not long after the election, the state killed the whole "pass through" program.
The Dallas Morning News, in an editorial after the election wrote, "Rookie Collin County Judge Keith Self was selling nonsense with his campaign to defeat a ballot proposition for road building. Voters, to their credit, weren't buying."
Earlier this year, he took his libertarian anti-transportation message to Austin where he was roundly castigated by several Texas Senators, including some from his own party for misrepresenting the Local Option Transportation Tax bill. Fellow Republican Senator John Carona of Richardson told Self that, "it seems to me that you do a disservice to the community by sending out the missives you've sent out before you even knew or understood what the bill said.... It is especially tragic that in a progressive part of the state like Collin County that this [Self] would represent the future leadership of the county."
Once again, the Dallas Morning News editorialized on Self's performance, calling it the "Keith Self side show", the News wrote, "Collin County Judge Keith Self has opposed bond elections to build roads, accused regional leaders of socialism and made fighting a bill that would give people the right to vote on rail expansion his top legislative priority. This week, he took his mischaracterizations of a rail expansion plan directly to the source, testifying before a Senate panel."
Last week, Judge Self stunned commissioners and court watchers with 2 presentations - both carrying the message to STOP road planning and construction.
In the first presentation, which was at the County Toll Road Authority portion of the meeting, Judge Self, speaking of the proposed Outer Loop, told the court that they should not be in a hurry to proceed with a $563,000 engineering study for Segment 3 because, as he said, "there is no hurry". Commissioners Jaynes, Ward and Hoagland disagreed. Jaynes pointed out that delay would cost the taxpayers $90,000/day in increased costs on the entire $4 billion Outer Loop program.
After an hour long discussion of engineering contract costs, property values and traffic projections, the court over-ruled Self's objections, voting to approve the contract 3 - 2. Commissioner Matt Shaheen voted along with Keith Self not to approve.
Despite Keith Self's objections, the county will continue to try to expedite the construction of the Outer Loop.
Later, in a heated discussion over projects to be assigned to the county's new citizen's Efficiency Committee, Keith Self, again supported by Matt Shaheen, floated the idea to stop this year's rural road asphalting program at 50 miles.
In 2004, the county committed to paving all 763 miles of county-maintained dirt roads within 10 years. The year to year goal has been to asphalt at least 50 miles per year - and every year, the county has exceeded its goal. This year, the public works department is on track to complete 70 miles.
Judge Self wants the county to stop paving at 50 miles and to warehouse the inventory of asphalt aggregate for next year. His reasoning is that the county would save money next year, because it would not have to purchase as much road making aggregate next year, when budget crunches could be harder.
Once again, Judge Self wanted to stop road construction, saying "We want to be husbanding our assets for next year".
Jaynes retorted, "If stopped doing anything, we wouldn't spend anything!"
Shaheen went on to explain that the county had "excess" inventories of aggregate totaling about $1.5 to $2 million. If construction were to stop, these inventories would be carried over to next year, saving the need to purchase as much in FY 2010.
Jerry Hoagland pointed asked that if there were excess inventories, "why wouldn't we use it up now?".
Joe Jaynes reacted to Self's idea with shock and indignation exclaiming that, "To say that you're at 50 [miles] and you have to stop is just government control at its worst. We have 300 days of reserves. The sky is not falling. It's going to be tougher next year, quite probably in appraised value but its not like we're some county in West Texas. And to tell these guys to cap it at 50 [miles], when we can go further is just like some of this short-sightedness we are seeing in some of these other things. We're worried about today, and not looking at the future."
"Now is the time to be doing this", said Jaynes, "not stopping."
Later in the week, Jaynes sent an email to his supporters:
Battle lines are being drawn.
Hoagland and Jaynes believe strongly that the future development of the county requires continued investment in the transportation infrastructure. So far Ward has voted with Jaynes and Hoagland.
Self, with some support from Matt Shaheen, has tried to slow or stop virtually every mobility project in the works.
As a leader of a county that desperately needs tens of billions of dollars for transportation investment, he seems nuttier than a Corsicana fruitcake.
The Collin County GOP is "deeply fragmented", according to former county chair, Rick Neudorff. The infighting was caused, in large part, by County Judge Keith Self's opposition to the Commissioners Court's bond program.
In Tuesday's balloting, the voters repudiated Self with a 70% yes vote for the bonds.
Today, the Dallas Morning News printed 2 letters from leading Republicans, blaming Keith Self for his "antagonistic leadership" style.
Self should be getting used to the criticism, even if his party isn't.
Last August, the McKinney Courier-Gazette published an editorial criticizing the "rookie" county judge for his opposition to the County's bond issues. The Gazette called his position "curious" and wrote that his comments "betray a lack of understanding about what is actually going on in the county and about the functioning of county government."
Yesterday, the Dallas Morning News wrote, in an editorial opinion, that Self was "selling nonsense" and intimating that the Judge was using his opposition in an attempt to position himself for higher office. The News called for Self to use his "remaining credibility" to helping the county.
"Rookie" County Judge Keith Self, who campaigned mostly on his leadership ability has proven to be anything but a leader. While preaching a Reagan style conservative populism, he has come off as merely pugnacious, ambitious and naive.
During his campaign, Self was fond of telling a story about how a parachute squad he was leading jumped out of a plane that was flying way below a safe altitude, simply because Lt.Col. Self told them to do so.
Well, Judge Self is learning that Collin County voters...and for that matter Collin County Republicans are not going to jump when and how he wants them to.
Welcome to a democracy, Keith.
Editorial: Voice of Reason is Needed
Keith Self needs to learn from Tuesday's voter repudiation
Thursday, November 8, 2007 / The Dallas Morning News Suburban Editorial Board
Rookie Collin County Judge Keith Self was selling nonsense with his campaign to defeat a ballot proposition for road building. Voters, to their credit, weren't buying.
In approving $235.6 million in bonds for road projects in Tuesday's election, the public proved capable of discerning between good sense and rank sloganeering. Good sense argued that the state's fastest-growing county needs aggressive transportation investment to keep pace.
Mr. Self, in his lone-wolf effort to sabotage years of open and balanced planning, tried in vain to slap the "pork" label on the proposition.
Politicians in Washington (and those who wish they worked there) may try to score points by tossing around that word. But county voters who know what it's like to sit through two or three cycles of a stoplight understand the polar difference between pork and an obvious need.
The conservative residents of Collin County have a keen instinct for the value of basics. That's why they want good schools and a safe community. They want open space for recreation, as evidenced by approval Tuesday of a separate proposal for parks.
They also know that traffic congestion wastes time, hurts business, fouls the air and contributes to a second-class quality of life. The public, in essence, rejected Mr. Self's naive counterproposal to concentrate investment on only a few "backbone" roads.
His concept to have cities pay the full freight for 113 proposed smaller projects disregarded the county's tradition of shared responsibility and helping to connect communities.
Yes, U.S. Highway 75 is choked with traffic and needs urgent attention. Regional transportation experts and officials continue to work on finding the best approach to getting the job done.
Mr. Self now should apply his zeal and remaining credibility to helping secure all the state and regional money possible to improve that highway and other backbone roads.
The effort needs allies, people of influence and voices of reason. The county will benefit if Mr. Self can develop that voice.
DMN Suburban Editorial Board
LINK TO DMN
The unofficial results of the Collin County bond election show a considerable mandate FOR the 3 bond packages, and a huge blow to Judge Keith Self's prestige and influence on the commissioners court.
Turnout was low - less than 8% but the margins large -
We can make a difference -
As I mentioned to you in my last letter, there are times when the good of all requires bipartisan action, This is one of those times. We can make a difference, but only if we vote.
COLLIN COUNTY NEEDS YOUR VOTE TODAY, NOVEMBER 6 FOR the County Bond Propositions #1, #2 and #3.
Voting YES does not increase taxes and leaves Collin County with a AAA bond rating.
This carefully thought out transportation plan has been called "pork" by an opposition group who will wants to use political rhetoric without facts that planning for the growth in Collin County is wrong.
The Dallas Morning News noted:
"This bond election is not about setting priorities. It's about sticking to them" and "Proposition 1 is not about grandiose projects. It's actually a rather mundane step in the planning a growing county needs to do, except for the fact that the county judge, for whatever reason, is fighting it. Mr. Self calls these projects pork, but they are more like meat and potatoes."
Less than 4% of the county's voters have cast ballots in early voting. Turnout is very light, and that means YOUR VOTE COUNTS.
I urge you to vote today. The polls are open from 7 to 7. A listing of all polling places can be found at the County's website.
Thank you, with your help we CAN make Collin County a better place for all.
“Without the county’s matching funds that would be approved in this bond election, each city will have to raise their taxes to build roads that are used by the entire county. Our roads interconnect; they do not stop at the city borders.”
Frisco Mayor Mike Simpson
he mayors of Collin County’s four largest cities have announced their support for the somewhat controversial 2007 Collin County Bond Election. Their focus primarily rests Proposition 1, a request for $235.6 million in transportation projects.
The leaders from Allen, Frisco, McKinney? and Plano say this bond is important develop a cohesive regional transportation system.
“The roads, I think, rightly are getting the majority of the attention because our transportation system is so overloaded right now. So many people who experience it every day,” Plano Mayor Pat Evans said.
Even though Plano, the largest city in the county, is getting a smaller share of the bond funds, Plano Mayor Pat Evans said the city received all that it asked for.
“We got every project we ask to be funded was funded. Nothing that we asked [for] was turned down,” she said. “I’m very satisfied with what we got. Next year, we might have more projects, but that’s what we’ve got right now that we needed funded.”
Plano has 21 projects on the county’s shortlist. A 37-member committee of Collin County residents compiled the final list. Plano had 12 representatives on the committee, more than any other community. “I stand behind the citizen’s committee that volunteered hundreds of hours to determine the project proposals for the Collin County Bond Program. Their efforts show the cooperation that exists between the cities and Collin County,” Allen Mayor Steve Terrell said in a written statement.
“We have many projects on that list,” Evans said. “This is the first time we’ve been able to include rehabilitation projects and that is very important. It’s more expensive to rehabilitate a road than initial build,” she said. “We need to participation on the county, and the sharing of the costs because our citizens do pay county taxes. We count on county for matching grant because it stretches our dollars. It’s important that our citizens get some money back for all the county taxes they’ve invested.”
Evans also said the city would benefit from improved roadways to the north.
“There are a lot of roads all of our citizen have in common. Mobility in other cities unclogs our streets,” she said. “When they can clear their Preston Road, it clears our Preston Road faster. We are all connected, and you’ve got to look at this as a regional project.”
Frisco Mayor Mike Simpson agreed.
In a written statement, he said, “Without the county’s matching funds that would be approved in this bond election, each city will have to raise their taxes to build roads that are used by the entire county. Our roads interconnect; they do not stop at the city borders.”
County elections administrator Sharon Rowe is predicting a 10%-12% turnout. As of yesterday, 2% of registered voters had voted early.
Here is the breakdown of voters through Wednesday:
ALLEN 688 ANNA 655 BLUE RIDGE 15 CELINA 66 DALLAS 972 FAIRVIEW 179 FARMERSVILLE 63 FRISCO 399 JOSEPHINE 1 LAVON 10 LOWRY CROSSING 15 LUCAS 48 MCKINNEY 887 MELISSA 65 MURPHY 262 NEVADA 15 NEW HOPE 8 PARKER 53 PLANO 2,483 PRINCETON 108 PROSPER 23 RICHARDSON 225 ROYSE CITY 9 SACHSE 54 SAINT PAUL 13 WESTON 10 WYLIE 220 Total 7,546
The Arts of Collin County reports it has received an $476,000 Open Space grant from Collin County.
The grant money covers improvements made to the Six Cities Trail and pedestrian trail including an electrical conduit along Six Cities Ridgeview Drive trail, a topographical survey for Six Cities Trail crossing at the Rowlett creek western tributary, two pedestrian bridges crossing the western tributary, and the trail under Exchange Parkway and Six Cities Ridgeview Drive Trail west of Exchange Parkway. This year's grant is Phase III of a 4 year program.
In 2005, the Collin County Parks Foundation Advisory Board approved a total funding award to the Arts of Collin County for Open Space Enhancements in the amount of $3 million to be paid out over four years. Phase 1 of the Open Space Enhancements funding was for $350,000 and covered environmental, engineering and design costs associated with the establishment of the festival meadow, the Rowlett Creek western tributary, and the Six Cities Regional Trail, pedestrian trails, bridges, signage and lighting. In Phase 2, $337,358 was approved to cover tree protection, clearing and grubbing, and soil stabilization associated with the Meadow and Rowlett Creek western tributary establishment and restoration.
Other organizations that were approved for funding by the Collin County Parks Advisory Board include the Collin County Nature Conservancy, Blackland Prairie Raptor Center, the Cities of Allen, Fairview, Frisco, Lucas, Princeton and Wylie, as well as the Towns of New Hope and Prosper. These projects include improvements, restoration or establishment of park lands, trails, playgrounds, etc.
The 2003 bond will complete its funding cycles with the 5th series awards to be handed out next year.
I am pleased to see the County's continued commitment to the ACC. The Arts of Collin County are making a tremendous effort to add a new dimension to our quality of life.
Below are the number of votes cast in the first 7 days of early voting.
Not surprisingly, turnout is light.
Towns with the highest percentages are Anna and Murphy. Anna is also holding a local un-option election, and Murphy (usually a high turnout locale anyway) is voting on a City Council race.
City Voted ALLEN 381 ANNA 456 BLUE RIDGE 10 CELINA 53 DALLAS 677 FAIRVIEW 100 FARMERSVILLE 55 FRISCO 237 LAVON 6 LOWRY CROSSING 8 LUCAS 16 MCKINNEY 480 MELISSA 44 MURPHY 176 NEVADA 7 NEW HOPE 6 PARKER 35 PLANO 1,430 PRINCETON 70 PROSPER 10 RICHARDSON 125 ROYSE CITY 5 SACHSE 32 SAINT PAUL 7 WESTON 2 WYLIE 112 Grand Total 4,540
All I can say is, "if you haven't voted yet, do so. Democracy is NOT a spectator sport."
MCG - Editorial: County Bonds: Roads, facilities, open space are needed
McKinney Courier-Gazette/Saturday, October 27, 2007
Anyone who has traveled the highways of Collin County during rush hour understands the frustration of combining an automobile-obsessed society with a growing population. Recent estimates by the North Central Texas Council of Governments show that 88 people and 94 cars moved into Collin County in 2006. That means there are more people in more cars on the county’s streets and highways.
And contrary to the belief of some, not all of the congestion is occurring on U.S. 75. Though Central Expressway is in dire need of widening, especially north of Allen, anyone who has tried to negotiate Custer Road north of State Highway 121 recently will tell you that it’s probably three times as bad as the traffic jams on the freeway.
What about the smaller cities? Melissa, Anna, Prosper and Princeton are growing at a greater proportion than the county’s Big 4 of Plano, Frisco, McKinney? and Allen. Yet they don’t have the property-tax revenue to construct the roads they need to construct to accommodate the cars that are trying to get to the major arteries.
It is for those reasons that voters should approve Collin County’s $235.6 million bond proposal for transportation. And while they’re at it, they should also approve the $76.3 million proposition for juvenile justice facilities and the $17 million item for open space.
A knowledgeable source, in analyzing the bond election turnout, wrote me the following =>
“Here's my thoughts (projections) for this election, 8-12% Total combined early voting and election day turnout (30,107-45,160 ballots cast).
This is an interesting one for analysis. I have compared the following elections:
September 2003, Const. Amend. - 37,461 Tot ballots cast (11.57% of Reg. Voters)
November 2003, County Bond - 9,436 Tot ballots cast (2.88% of Reg. Voters)
November 2005, Const. Amend. (couple of hot issues) - 60,298 Tot ballots cast (16.75% of Reg. Voters)
The daily percentage comparison between the Bond Elections is close to doubled for this election.
Nov 03 was .47%,
Nov 07 is .89% through 10/26/07.”
My hope is for a 12%-15% turnout, but I have to admit that 10% is more likely. It may be trite to say it again, but it's a durn shame so few in the county turn out to the polls.
This morning, the Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Collin County approved a resolution supporting all three Collin County bond proposals.
The resolution put the Party on record as supporting a bi-partisan passage of the bonds because:
"The Democratic Party of Collin County recognizes that public funding is required to acquire parks, to improve mobility, and for the administration of justice and to support the quality of life we have come to expect"
"The Democratic Party of Collin County, Texas, in a true bi-partisan manner, supports the efforts of the Commissioners Court to provide additional funds for the services required to meet the needs of our increasing population."
Roads only part of bond plan's equation in Collin County
Collin County: Ballot items seek funds for new buildings, parks
12:00 AM CDT on Friday, October 26, 2007
By ED HOUSEWRIGHT / The Dallas Morning News
The $328.9 million county bond election on Nov. 6 isn't just about roads.
Most of the debate has centered on a $235.6 million proposition for transportation improvements. County Judge Keith Self adamantly opposes the measure, while the four county commissioners support it.
But voters also face two other propositions: $76.3 million for new buildings and $17 million for parks. Early voting ends Nov. 2.
For Collin County juvenile probation director Joe Scott, the buildings proposition is vital. It includes money to expand the juvenile detention center and build classrooms.
"If I didn't believe with all the experience I have that this was necessary, I certainly wouldn't be asking for it," said Mr. Scott, who has headed the juvenile department for 21 years.
Collin County's phenomenal growth has meant a rise in adult and juvenile crime, officials say. The facilities proposition is intended to address criminal justice needs.
A total of $19.1 million would be spent on the juvenile detention expansion and new classrooms. The remainder is earmarked for an expansion of the adult minimum security jail and an addition to the new courthouse, which opened in August.
"I think they're extremely important, and I'm afraid they're really underrated because everybody is focused on transportation," Commissioner Joe Jaynes said.
Bill Comments -
Early voting is going on now! Election Day is Nov. 6
Please vote, please vote "Yes" to Collin County Bond Proposals 1,2, & 3.
The McKinney Courier-Gazette reports that only 472 citizens voted on the first day of early voting for the County's bond proposals and State Constitutional Amendments.
In other local elections, the turnout was even lower:
# Anna: Fifty-one people voted in the election in regards to the legal sale of beer, wine and liquor election for off-premise consumption.
# Melissa: Five people voted in the election regarding $19.1 million in bonds for numerous road projects.
# Princeton: Six people voted in the election concerning a home-rule charter for the city.
Last night both Commissioner Hoagland and I were at the Wylie City Council meeting. Jerry gave a presentation on the bond proposals, and I endorsed them. The council then unanimously passed a resolution supporting the bond package.
Yesterday, I sent the following email to 2,000 Democrats and friends:
Friends In Collin County,
There are times when the public good requires bi-partisan action. Now is such a time.
I'm sure that you have been following recent stories in the press about Collin Counties three bond items. In the Sunday, October 21, issue of the Dallas Morning New the newspaper's suburban editorial board endorsed the three Collin County Bond Items. Please see their endorsement.
It is very important that we go to the polls and cast our ballots to help Collin County's infrastructure, facility and open space needs.
Please let me know if you have any questions that I can get answered, in order for you to support our effort? Thanks for your help and past support.
Editorial: We Recommend: Yes on Bonds
We Recommend: Yes on bonds
12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, October 21, 2007
The obvious answer is "Yes." All of the above.
The question, you see, is not an "either/or," despite efforts by some opponents of Proposition 1 to make it appear that way. The package was crafted by 37 citizens with guidance from professional engineers to address 113 urgent transportation needs throughout the county. There is no reasonable alternative.
County Judge Keith Self says working with the state on creative finance options is an alternative way to ease traffic congestion, but that is misleading. That's not an alternative as much as it's a red herring. Even if the state were ready to work with Collin County officials on major highways, it will never help build or plan the roads that are at issue in this bond election.
This bond package deals with roads that need to be planned, built and improved using county and local money. There's no avoiding that responsibility.
County officials must continue to work with the state and federal government on planning for major highways, but these county roads will bear the brunt of the growth that will continue for the next several decades.
Regional transportation experts say traffic on the county's major highways will increase by 63 percent by 2030. On the major county roads, vehicle miles traveled will increase 247 percent in that same period, more than tripling the time spent delayed in traffic on these roads.
Think about where you drive. It makes sense.
Despite these facts, Mr. Self says we need to focus on the backbone of the county. The backbone is important, but so are the arteries and the veins that make up the county's circulation system. Collin County voters should not be tricked into making false choices; they should approve this bond and pressure state leaders to deliver on the backbone highways.
That means voters must also see through the deceiving tax arguments meant to distract them from this important responsibility.
• Is the county spending beyond its means? No. Even with this new debt, the county will be using the equivalent of $1,000 on a credit card with a $10,000 limit. The financial standing of Collin County is the envy of other counties.
• Is your community getting its "fair share"? Yes. The citizens who shaped this package do not simply divide the money based on population. That would be irresponsible and lazy. Rather, they realize that funding an engineering feasibility study for a bridge over Lake Lavon will, in the long term, help people in Frisco. They realize that improving roads in Melissa will help people in McKinney?. They realize that Collin County residents do not live, work and play exclusively in their own cities and that mobility planning must cross city limits.
Proposition 1 is not about grandiose projects. It's actually a rather mundane step in the planning a growing county needs to do, except for the fact that the county judge, for whatever reason, is fighting it.
Mr. Self calls these projects pork, but they are more like meat and potatoes.
DMN Suburban Editorial Board
COLLIN COUNTY BONDS INFORMATION
Reposted, with permission, from Joe Jaynes' blog , The County Line Blog
In addition to transportation, (see County Line August, 2007 at www.joejaynes.com) another important aspect of the November 6, 2007, bond election is Facilities. The extraordinary growth Collin County is experiencing also, one could argue unfortunately, brings about needed additions to our court and detention facilities.
A 16-member citizens committee spent several months visiting Collin County facilities and reviewing the county’s master build-out plan. After a series of meetings and following commissioner court directions that this bond election not bring about a tax rate increase, the Facilities Bond Committee recommended $76,300,000 be placed on the 2007 bond election for the following projects:
New Courthouse Phase 2 $47,000,000
Phase 2 of the new courthouse would be built to accommodate all misdemeanor courts, their staffs and support. Currently these courts are located at the old hospital on University Drive in McKinney?. If approved, Collin County will have for the first time all its criminal justice activities ranging from detention to courts at one central location, thus eliminating the need to bus prisoners throughout the city for court appearances.
Juvenile Detention Expansion $8,500,000
This would include funding for a 48 bed cluster in addition to the 48 beds approved by voters in 2003.
Minimum Security Detention Expansion $10,200,000
This bond proposal will be asking for voter approval for an additional 45,000 sq. ft. expansion which will allow for the addition of 192 beds which would double our amount to 384 beds.
Juvenile Education and Juvenile Probation Building $10,600,000
Under state law, if juveniles are expelled from school it is the responsibility of counties to educate them. The legislature recently passed a new law which gives the schools greater flexibility in expelling students. In the past, schools could only expel if the student had a discipline issue on campus. Now a student with a non-school related discipline issue off campus may be expelled by the school district.
While this legislation does keep our schools safer, it also means that there will be more students that will become the county’s responsibility to educate when they are expelled. Under this new law we expect the number of our students to increase by 50 percent.
As of now this program is held on the third floor of the old hospital which also houses our Juvenile Probation Department. With this new unfunded mandate, another facility is required. If approved by voters, this facility will be built with all other county justice-related facilities off Community Drive.
Keep in mind that, along with roads and healthcare, criminal justice is a major responsibility for all counties. Out of Collin County’s $247 million budget, almost two-thirds goes to the criminal justice system. However, I do believe that these recommendations from our citizens’ committee will assist in Collin County keeping up with our tremendous growth.
Again, approval of this bond election will not result in a tax rate increase and Collin County will be able to maintain its AAA bond rating. Most important, approval of this bond will allow Collin County to meet its growth and criminal justice challenges in the years ahead.
Printed in the McKinney Courier-Gazette
by Phyllis Cole, Jerry Hoagland, Joe Jaynes and Jack Hatchell
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Collin County has grown very rapidly for the past 25 years. All indications are that this growth will continue in future years. We need to pass this bond election to keep pace with the growth that is inevitably ahead of us. Let’s take a closer look at the ballot propositions you are being asked to approve.
The recommendations came from a citizens committee appointed by the Commissioners Court. These citizens were asked to make any recommendation they desired to make, but not to increase the county tax rate. The committee accomplished this task - there will be no need to increase the county tax rate if you vote for these bonds.
The committee recommended that bonds be placed on the November ballot in three categories: road improvement bonds ($235.6 million), parks and open space bonds ($17.0 million), and facilities improvement bonds ($76.3 million). You will be able to vote on each of these three bond propositions.
Collin County has a long history of partnering with cities (50/50) on road improvement projects. The total amount of road improvements will approach $500 million when the city match is added to the county’s $235.6 million, and will involve 120 miles of road improvements. The cities originally requested over $1 billion for road improvements so the committee had to substantially reduce the requests made by the cities. Please review a map of the recommended road improvements at www.CollinCountyTX,gov. All of these projects are designed to reduce your frustration levels with traffic congestion.
The Open Space Improvement Bonds ($17.0 million) are designed to enhance your overall quality of life. This money too is used in partnership with the cities within Collin County. Based on past bond elections this $17 million could be leveraged to well over $100 million in park and open space improvements.
The Facilities Improvements Bonds ($76.3 million) include four projects: expansion of the courthouse to accommodate the county courts, state-mandated school room improvements for juvenile offenders, additional minimum security space for adult criminals, and expansion of the juvenile detention center. All of these projects are recommended so that you and your family feel safe and secure as you go about your daily living activities. Please vote for these recommended bonds on or before Nov. 6. Collin County’s future lies in your hands. Let’s keep Collin County moving forward.
For more information about the bond election, please see www.CollinCountyBonds.org.
Phyllis Cole is county commissioner for Precinct 1. Jerry Hoagland is county commissioner for Precinct 2. Joe Jaynes is county commissioner for Precinct 3. Jack Hatchell is county commissioner for Precinct 4. The opinions expressed are their own
The Dallas Morning News/Sunday, October 21, 2007
Page 5,228 of the Texas Senate Journal, from May 27 of this year, contains the following text:
Yeas: Averitt, Brimer, Carona, Deuell, Duncan, Ellis, Eltife, Estes, Fraser, Hegar, Hinojosa, Jackson, Janek, Lucio, Nelson, Nichols, Ogden, Seliger, Shapiro, Shapleigh, Uresti, Van de Putte, Watson, Wentworth, West, Whitmire, Zaffirini.
Nays: Harris, Patrick, Williams.
The name-by-name, roll-call listing is called a record vote. This one came on a bill to start testing student athletes for steroids.
The Senate and House journals are daily chronicles of the lawmakers present in the Capitol and the laws they wrote, passed and rejected. The official record contains hundreds of record votes, but they have been only voluntary – never mandatory, either in state law or constitution.
Voters can – and should – change that by voting yes on Proposition 11. Passage would provide a new and lasting constitutional guarantee that a record vote will be taken on final passage of all statewide laws.
In years past, it was routine for lawmakers to adopt major legislation through anonymous voice votes. Too often, the official House record said mysteriously that a lawmaker's motion for final passage "prevailed." The Senate record commonly stated that legislation passed "by a viva voce vote," which means members called out yeas or nays. The identity of supporters and opponents was left to the imagination
This type of bill-making was arrogantly oblivious to the public's right to transparency in government.
Should Collin County voters approve $235.6 million in bonds to plan, build and improve roads countywide, or should it work closely with state and federal officials to expand a few major highways that serve as the backbone of the county's transportation system?
The obvious answer is "Yes." All of the above.
The question, you see, is not an "either/or," despite efforts by some opponents of Proposition 1 to make it appear that way. The package was crafted by 37 citizens with guidance from professional engineers to address 113 urgent transportation needs throughout the county. There is no reasonable alternative.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 special elections will take place from Monday, Oct 22 to Nov. 2 at several locations in the county.
The deadline to register to vote for this election was Oct. 9, 2007. Statutory law dictates that all registered voters in Collin County may vote early in person without a designated reason.
Items on the ballot include 16 state constitutional amendments; a Collin County bond package for transportation, justice facilities and open space; a referendum to prohibit alcohol sales in Anna; bond elections in the city of Melissa and the Lovejoy ISD; and a petition to increase property taxes in the Blue Ridge ISD.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to next Friday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 27 and Oct. 29 to Nov. 2; and 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at the following locations in McKinney? and environs:
=> Collin County Elections Administration, 2010 Redbud Drive, McKinney?.
=> Allen Municipal Courts Facility 301 Century Pkwy Allen
=> Anna City Hall Annex 111 N. Powell Pkwy. Anna
=> Carpenter Park Recreation Center 6701 Coit Road Plano
=> CCCCD-Preston Ridge Campus 9700 Wade Blvd. Frisco
=> CCCCD-Spring Creek Campus 2800 E. Spring Creek Pkwy. Plano
=> Christ United Methodist Church 3101 Coit Plano
=> Harrington Library 1501 18th St Plano
=> Murphy City Hall 206 N. Murphy Road Murphy
=> PISD Administration Center 2700 W. 15th St Plano
=> Parr Library 6200 Windhaven Parkway Plano
=> Renner Frankford Library 6400 Frankford Dallas
=> Wylie Municipal Building 2000 N. Hwy 78 Wylie
Part-time polling places are:
=> Celina City Hall, 302 W. Walnut, Celina, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
=> Farmersville City Hall, 205 S. Main, Farmersville, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26.
The Prosper ISD has several early voting locations in its city for the school district’s $710 million bond package:
=> Rucker Elementary, 402 S. Craig Street, Prosper, 7:30 to 4 p.m. Monday to Oct. 25 and Oct. 29 to Nov. 2; 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 26.
=> Folsom Elementary, 800 Somerville Drive, Prosper, 7:30 to 4 p.m. Monday to Oct. 25 and Oct. 29 to Nov. 2; 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 26.
=> Baker Elementary, 3125 Bluewood Drive, McKinney?, 7:30 to 4 p.m. Monday to Oct. 25 and Oct. 29 to Nov. 2; 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 26.
=> Prosper ISD administration, 605 E. 7th Street, Prosper, 7:30 to 4 p.m. Monday to Oct. 25 and Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.
=> Prosper High School, 300 Eagle Lane, Prosper, 7:30 to 4 p.m. Monday to Oct. 24 and Oct. 29 to 31; 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 25, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.
Important Note: Eligible Collin County registered voters (with an effective date of registration on or before Nov. 6, 2007) may vote at any of the above early voting locations.
Registered voters who are physically disabled, 65 years of age or older, or those voters who will be absent from the county during the entire early voting period and election day, Nov. 6, 2007 are eligible to vote early by mail.
To vote early by mail, a voter may complete an application for a ballot by mail or include information required in an informal letter and send it to: Early Voting Clerk, 2010 Redbud Blvd., Ste. 102, McKinney?, Texas 75069, requesting a ballot. The letter must include the reason for voting early, the address where the ballot can be mailed, and the voter's signature. The deadline for mailing ballots is Oct. 30, 2007. To be counted, the voted ballot must be received by the Elections Administration Office by 7 p.m., Nov. 6, 2007. Late rules apply only to ballots being mailed from outside the country.
For additional information, including sample ballots, log on to http://www.collincountytx.gov/, or call 972-547-1990.
Be sure to vote. Democracy is not a spectator sport.
By Brandi Hart, McKinney Courier-Gazette
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The (McKinney City) council unanimously approved a resolution to support the individual proposals in the $328.9 million Nov. 6 county bond election. The proposals include $235 million for transportation, of which $65 million is included for transportation projects for McKinney?; $17 million for open space and parks; and $76.3 million in county facilities, some of which will be in McKinney?.
The city councils of Melissa, Anna and Frisco, and the Prosper town council have adopted similar resolutions supporting the bond proposals. - County Judge Keith Self is asking people to vote against. He previously told the McKinney? Courier-Gazette that the transportation bond proposal does not have enough funding for major state and federal highways in Collin County.
Mayor Pro Tem Thad Helsley said he supports the bond proposals and said McKinney? residents can add several “pennies to the tax rate if we don’t get this transportation proposal.”
“Many of these projects are in McKinney?. The transportation proposal includes two-thirds of the $328.9 million bond project. These are matching funds. We got 14 projects on that (transportation) list included in the bond project,” Helsley said.
Council member Brian Loughmiller said the expansions of Custer Road and Lake Forest Drive are in the transportation bond proposal, and the road projects in the proposal are county roads as they serve all county residents.
Council member Pete Huff said partnering with the county is not a new process as the city has done so before. However the difference with the Nov. 6 bond election is the amount of road projects and money the city is asking for in the election “just happens to be bigger,” Huff said.
“If we don’t do this, it will be difficult to raise the money. This is not a new process,” Huff said.
Mayor Bill Whitfield said during the council’s comment period that he supports the bond proposals and the city needs the money to fund the needed transportation projects.
“From my standpoint, this is crucial because of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens. We need money. We need it immediately. We need help immediately. We have no time to wait,” Whitfield said.
Self and Collin County Commissioner Joe Jaynes will debate the pros and cons of the bond election at 7 p.m. Thursday at the McKinney? Performing Arts Center in the Historic Collin County Courthouse, 111 Tennessee St. The McKinney? Chamber of Commerce and the Allen Chamber of Commerce will also hold a discussion between Self and Jaynes about the bond election at 8 a.m. Friday at the Eldorado Country Club, 2604 Country Club Drive in McKinney?. Early voting for the bond election begins Monday.
In an editorial today, the Dallas Morning News recommended that voters approve Collin County's three bond proposals. The News joins a growing number of cities, school districts, chambers of commerce, elected officials, and citizens (including this writer) who believe that passage of the bonds are needed to keep up with the needs of our county.
The editorial board wrote:
Editorial: We Recommend: Yes on Bonds
Package will keep a process that works on track
12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, October 14, 2007
Bond elections are all about the future, but before we judge the specifics of the proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot, it's worth taking a moment to realize how and why Collin County got to this point.
Think of the upcoming election as a referendum on more than 25 years of planning. That's how long the county has been partnering with cities to build and expand roads throughout the county. Partnership and comprehensive planning have resulted in six-lane divided thoroughfares that are the envy of other counties.
It didn't use to be this way. Back in the early 1980s, roads were planned and built independently by cities and the four precincts that make up the county. Ever wonder why Texas back roads zig and zag all over the place? A lack of coordination resulted in roads that didn't quite link up at city or precinct lines. That's also why some four-lane concrete roads with medians abruptly become two-lane asphalt roads lacking even a shoulder.
That's increasingly rare in Collin County, and it's not by chance.
Every few years, citizens work closely with engineers, city staff and elected leaders to go over the needs of their communities. This year, for example, they considered 180 requests, matching them with the master plan for the county to help set priorities.
They work with engineers to determine where the public's money will do the most good, and they consider the work done in previous bond packages. That's because large projects don't get done in one step. An engineering study in this bond package, for example, may lay the foundation for actual construction in the next.
It's a complex but well-oiled machine, a process that has been nearly perfected by dedicated citizens, staff and engineers.
Yet some critics dismiss the process and brush aside the recommendations, substituting their own untested judgment in their place. County Judge Keith Self is leading the opposition and pushing a narrow focus on what he calls the county's "backbone" highways. Even if that were a sensible, responsible alternative (it's not), upending the planning process would mean a delay of several years. The county is adding 88 people and 94 cars every day. The public cannot delay this bond package's 113 road projects in 19 cities and towns.
The major highway projects are important, too. But this is not a simple matter of putting those projects first in line. A vote against this bond package would not reorder priorities; it would halt more than 25 years of building a process that works, and it would undermine more than two years of work by professional engineers, city staffs and dozens of citizens.
This bond election is not about setting priorities. It's about sticking to them.
DMN Suburban Editorial Board
Keep up with growth
This editorial is part one of a two-part series on the Nov. 6 Collin County bond election. Early voting begins Oct. 22. Details of the bond package can be found online at www.co.collin.tx.us.
Part One: A process that works. Today.
Part Two: A plan that delivers. Next Sunday.
Judge's blog calls Collin County bond plan 'pork'
Collin County: Others on Commissioners Court defend proposal
Thursday, October 11, 2007
By ED HOUSEWRIGHT / as Morning News
The honeymoon is over.
In a battle being played out largely in the blogosphere, Collin County Judge Keith Self has broken ranks with his four colleagues on the Commissioners Court over the upcoming $328.9 million bond election.
Mr. Self opposes the propositions for roads, buildings and parks and has repeatedly denounced the spending package as "pork" on his blog.
One commissioner has responded with blog posts of his own, while all have issued a joint news release endorsing the bonds. Early voting begins Oct. 22 for the Nov. 6 election.
The rift marks the first major spat between Mr. Self, a first-time officeholder who took office Jan. 1, and commissioners, who have a combined 76 years of elected experience. In previous bond elections, the all-Republican court has spoken with one voice in support of spending measures.
County Judge Keith Self and Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Jaynes fielded questions about the three Nov. 6 county bond proposals at a debate held Thursday at McKinney? High School.
Jaynes began the debate after he won a coin toss, and told the crowd several reasons why they should vote for all three bond proposals. The bond election includes a $235.6 million transportation proposal, a $17 million open space proposal and a $76.3 million county facilities proposal.
The facilities proposal includes the design and construction for phase two of the new Collin County Courthouse on Bloomdale Road for $47,000,000, which includes design work to begin in December; $10,600,000 for the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program and Juvenile Probation Administration; $10,200,000 to add 45,000 square feet to the Minimum Security Detention facility and; $8,500,000 to add 48 new beds to the Juvenile Detention Center.
Jaynes said the reason why people should vote for the $235 million transportation proposal is that all the roads in the proposal are important in each city that submitted transportation projects to the county, and that the entire bond package could be approved without raising the county property tax rate.
“We added 88 cars per day in 2006 and by 2030 we will double in size. Collin County will receive $1.5 billion off of the (State Highway) 121 toll road project. Collin County’s future is now.
ARLINGTON – After years of arm-twisting over the sale of the State Highway 121 toll road, the payoff is finally here.
And while nobody got exactly what they wanted, forgive Denton County for smiling a little more than its neighbor to the east.
On Thursday, the Regional Transportation Council approved the division of the roughly $3 billion payout from the sale of the toll road to surrounding counties.
The decision came despite the grumbling of leaders in Collin County, who said the divisions will shortchange their county out of millions.
At stake is billions of dollars that will be generated almost immediately under the state's deal to sell tolling rights on Highway 121.
Earlier this year, the North Texas Tollway Authority agreed to pay the state $2.5 billion up front and $833 million in additional revenue for the right to collect tolls on the road for the next 50 years.
The council, a 40-member panel of local officials that sets transportation policy, was tasked with dividing that payout among area counties.
Under the plan, the majority of the money was set aside for Denton County, which will receive $1.56 billion, and Collin County, which will get $1.18 billion. The proposal was based in large part on estimates of how many vehicles will use the highway in each county in the future.
Anyone wishing to vote in the Nov. 6 Special Elections must register by today.
To be eligible to vote in Texas, people must be U.S. citizens; be a resident of the county in which they wish to vote; be 18 years old (people may register at 17 years and 10 months); not be convicted felons (unless their sentence is completed, including probation); and not have been declared mentally incapacitated by a court of law.
Applications to register to vote can be downloaded at the Collin County Elections website or call the Collin County Elections Office at 972-547-1990 or metro 972-424-1460, ext. 1990, for an application. They are also available at most post offices, libraries and high schools.
As early voting for the Nov. 6 county bond election looms just around the corner, members of the Collin County Commissioners Court are split in the race to rally people to vote for or against the bond.
County Judge Keith Self has said in commissioners court meetings that he does not support the three bond proposals. The bond election includes $235.6 million in transportation projects, $17 million in open space projects and $76.3 million in county facilities. The facilities proposal includes the design and construction for phase two of the new Collin County Courthouse on Bloomdale Road for $47 million, which includes design work to begin in December; $10.6 million for the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program and Juvenile Probation Administration; $10.2 million to add 45,000 square feet to the Minimum Security Detention facility and; $8.5 million to add 48 new beds to the Juvenile Detention Center.
Self voted against each proposal when the commissioners officially called the election. He is affectionately calling the transportation bond proposal the “transportation pork proposal,” stating that the transportation bond proposal, and the other two proposals, will increase the county’s debt service ratio, Self said.
Commissioner Jaynes has issued the following press release -
On November 6th, voters have an opportunity to increase transportation funding within Collin County to over $1 billion with passage of the county’s bond program. “It’s simple,” County Commissioner Joe Jaynes said, “We will be receiving over $600 million in projects funded from SH 121. Our county bond proposition for transportation is $235 million. By partnering with our cities, that amount will be over $400 million. With our 121 money plus our partnerships through the bond package we will be looking at over $1 billion that can be used for much needed road expansion—all without a tax rate increase.”
The SH 121 tolling project has been awarded to the North Texas Tollway Authority and is projected to produce approximately $900 million for Collin County over the next 50 years. Collin will receive $608 million upfront in projects funded and the remaining $290 million will be paid out over the life of the project.
“This is great news,” stated Commissioner Phyllis Cole. “Collin County’s future is now. With over $1 billion in road funding we will be able to address both our city thoroughfares and our major highways”
Commissioner Jack Hatchell stated, “In my 48 years as a traffic engineer, I have never seen such a windfall for any county or city. This will take our infrastructure to a new level as Collin County continues its rapid growth.
Also on the county bond election are two additional propositions asking for $76 million for county facilities and $17 million for open space projects. “All three propositions are sorely needed and we can pass all three without a tax rate increase,” Commissioner Jerry Hoagland stated. “Every other county in America would love to be in our position. All we need is for voters to approve the bonds on November 6.”
State Senator Florence Shapiro endorsed the county bond election saying, “I applaud the partnerships between Collin County, the NTTA and our local cities in bringing about this much needed road funding. I also look forward to the next legislative session as we work together to bring even more funding to Collin County.”
The Plano Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted unanimously this week to support Collin County’s November bond election.
The bond issue, which is drawing contention from inside the commissioners’ court, includes money to improve transportation, facilities and parks.
It was the $235.6 million for roads that Brad Shanklin, president of Plano Chamber of Commerce honed in on as he discussed why the chamber agreed to get behind the measure.
“We think it’s important for the infrastructure of this county. This is a fast growing county, and it’s critical for the business community that they are accessible by the roads,” Shanklin said.
He said Collin County added 88 people and 94 cars per day in 2006. By 2030, the county is expected to show a 93 percent increase and jobs and a 68 percent increase in the population.
Projections from the North Central Texas Council on Governments estimate that the county’s population will reach nearly 1.2 million in 2030, up significantly from this year’s population count of nearly 725,000. By that same year, the county is expected to be home to more than 517,000 jobs, up more than 300,000 from the number reported in 2000. “It’s back to the growth of the community,” Shanklin said.
Shanklin warned if the projects are delayed, it could cost taxpayers up to $1 million a day as construction costs escalate. Today, the projects “all can be done without an increase in county taxes,” he said. “It just makes sense. It’s important for this to happen now before you get behind the curve and the costs go up. We’re telling people if you’re stuck in this traffic, you need to be voting for this bond election.”
Shanklin said those who oppose the measure n at least in this form n want to spend the money to expand state highways 75, 121 and 380. However, “the state should take responsibility for state highways.”
The most vocal opposition to the proposal is County Judge Keith Self. He is asking voters to reject all three propositions, which also include $17 million in open space projects and $76.3 million for county facilities.
He has publicly stated the majority of the money should be spent on federal and state highways in the county.
"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune."
"I don't believe funding parks are a core function of County Government"
Keith Self, September 20, 2007
Teddy believed in the worth of parks and founded the first American national park. While we in Collin County will not have the opportunity to create a new Yellowstone, we can vote to provide funds to build and preserve natural, recreational green spaces for us and our posterity.
County Judge Keith Self is leading the charge to defeat the Open Space Bonds, declaring that "parks are not a core function of county government."
On November 6, we will have the opportunity to approve the issuance of $17 million in bonds that will be used as matching grants to local governments and private charitable organizations to build, acquire and improve parkland and open spaces.
The County's own Strategic Plan states, "it is projected that a total of 9,600 acres of new parks, open space, and recreational facilities will be needed by 2025 just to maintain the same level of parks and open space currently enjoyed by the county's existing population".
In 2003, the voters approved the first Open Space bond issue. Since then, over $6.5 million has been granted to 22 cities, towns and organizations, who leveraged these funds in over $16 million of parkland projects.
The $7 million 2003 program has been a huge success - it should be continued. While the 2007 Bond proposal is for $17 million, local cities have already listed over $148.6 million in parks project "wish lists".
Providing the infrastructure for local quality of life IS a core function of any responsible government. The Open Space program has proven to be a conservative, effective way to encourage and support the building of parks, recreation places, and hiking and nature trails.
We should approve the Open Space Bonds.
01:14 PM CDT on Thursday, September 27, 2007
By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER / The Dallas Morning News
– TxDOT? is fast going broke.
State transportation officials announced today that rising costs, dwindling federal funds, and lawmakers' opposition to private-sector investment in toll projects have combined to force it to sharply scale back construction plans.
"The people of Texas need to understand that within a very short period of time, there will be no money for mobility projects," said Texas Transportation Commission member Ned Holmes of Houston.
The affected projects will be those designed to build new roads, or add lanes to existing roads. Projects already under contract and those designed to maintain or rehabilitate existing roads won't be affected.
The reductions will begin later this fiscal year, and by 2010 the state will essentially have no money for new roads, said Commission Chairman Ric Williamson.
The department is reducing its construction projects even as experts are warning that Texas needs to spend more to fight a worsening traffic and air quality.
A national study by the Texas Transportation Institute released last week revealed that rush-hour congestion in the Dallas and Houston areas are each among the worst in the nation – and not likely to improve.
But Mr. Williamson said the money is simply not there.
The federal government – whose highway trust fund is expected to begin running a deficit by 2009 – continues to reduce its funding for new construction, he said. In addition, Texas lawmakers have steadily increased the amount of state gas tax revenues that are diverted to pay for other expenses – totaling more than $1 billion in the current budget.
But the commissioners saved their strongest criticism for moratorium imposed on private financing for toll projects throughout most of Texas. Mr. Williamson said the decision will cost the state billions of dollars in annual construction money beginning almost immediately.
Bill comments -
So, if TxDOT? doesn't have any money, then where does Judge Self think the Pass-Through dollars are going to come from? Pass-Through is a risky scheme - we should not be betting our bonds on its continuation.
Reposted, with permission from Joe Jaynes' blog , The County Line Blog
On November 6, Collin County will seek voter approval for approximately $329 million in bonds. The bond proposal will focus on transportation, facilities and open space. This email will address the transportation aspect of the bond package. Facilities and open space will be discussed in future emails.
Last year Collin County added 88 people per day. Yet we also added 94 cars per day. We are literally adding more cars then people! Our transportation bond committee, comprised of local citizens, recommended that we set the transportation portion of the bond amount at $235.6 million to fund 113 road projects countywide. Most of these projects are 50-50 partnerships with local cities to upgrade older roads or construct new thoroughfares.
Through these partnerships we will be able to complete approximately $420 million in road projects -- all without a tax rate increase. Collin County will also maintain its AAA bond rating as well. A detailed list of the projects and their costs can be found at my website, www.joejaynes.com.
The proposed bond does not fully address state and federally funded thoroughfares such as U.S. 75 and state highways. Those roadways are not county responsibilities. They fall under the purview of the state and federal government, and the costs of these projects are enormous. While I support working with state and federal agencies to the best of our ability, I believe that applying county bond funds to major highways exclusively would not bring about immediate action and would ultimately be cost-prohibitive to Collin County taxpayers.
For example, applying all the $235.6 million to U.S. 75 would bring about expansion from S.H. 121 to Virginia Parkway -- maybe. A bond election that focused its transportation dollars on such a small area would, I believe, fail due to a lack of support from other cities within Collin County.
In a bond election everyone needs something; if not, there will not be enough support for the election. To have voter approval of a bond election for state and U.S. highways almost all of them (U.S. 75, S.H. 121N, S.H. 289, S.H. 78 and numerous Farm-to-Market roads) would have to be addressed for the election to be successful. Considering the scope of these projects, $235.6 million would have to be spread so thin that it would probably not even cover the annual inflation rates for these projects much less their costs.
This approach would take Collin County years, if not decades, and numerous bond elections to get these projects started. In the meantime, expanding our major thoroughfares would be left entirely to the cities who, without the partnerships with Collin County, would have to drastically increase city taxes to build these much needed roadways at a slower rate.
What should be done about the state and U.S. highways in Collin County? First of all, we are working hard to net approximately $600 million in upfront revenue from the S.H. 121 toll project. This money will go a long way toward leveraging funds for our highways. Secondly, as Commissioner Jerry Hoagland has stated, we need to meet with our state legislative and congressional delegations and let them know how imperative it is that they assist us in attaining more funding at the state and federal level. It is only through their assistance and the funding from S.H. 121 that we will be successful in expanding our state and U.S. highways.
We also must again approach the legislature to allow cities the option of joining DART. Though we had remarkable success this last session, this particular legislation did not pass. DART already owns the line up to Denison and it is estimated that one rail line equals two lanes of traffic. These rail lines would go a long way toward mitigating congestion and, in addition, bring about quality development.
In the end, Collin County cannot afford to abandon our cities and focus our limited resources on state and U.S. highways only. If we do so our road construction will basically come to a halt while our population and tax rates dramatically increase.
I'm thinking of printing some t-shirts that read, "I live in Collin County and all I have to show for it are these damn toll roads."
If County Judge Keith Self successfully torpedoes the Transportation Bond issue, the SH 121 toll road and the Dallas Tollway extension will be among the very few major road projects built in the upcoming years.
Judge Self believes that we should not use county bond money (or any county money) to construct local roads. Instead he states, "The 2007 transportation bond proposal does not relieve congestion on our major highways. The Pass-Through-Financing reimbursement program DOES relieve our congestion, but is effectively abandoned if the transportation bond proposal passes."
Pass-Through-Financing is a scheme by TxDOT? to reimburse local government for highway construction - over time and based on the actual traffic on the road. It's kinda like tolls, except the State pays them, not the drivers.
Judge Self would have us shift the burden of expanding local roads to the cities and towns, while the county uses its money to fix the major highways like Central Expressway and US 380. Self then hopes that the State will reimburse the County using Pass-Through-Financing.
There are several fatal flaws in Self's plan.
First, the State of Texas, and TxDOT? are unreliable guarantors of our bond debt. Our bonds, once sold, are our debt - we the citizens of Collin County have the sole obligation to pay them off. The State can and does change its priorities every time the Legislature is in session. Every single state-financed local program I can think of has had its promised funding cut year to year.
A good example is community college funding. Collin County built its district after the legislature promised to assume the costs of running the schools if the locals built the schools. We did, they don't! That promise has been whittled away, until now the State pays less than half of the costs of running the CCCCD.
Relying on the Texas Legislature to reimburse us for our bond issue is like co-signing a note on a car for your drunk uncle.
Second, pushing down the financing of roads to the local cities would put a huge strain on their ability to raise funds. Local taxes would go up. Collin County has the financial muscle to attract bond investors at favorable rates and still maintain the current tax rate. (Or even cut taxes)
The real problem
I live in Wylie; I commute to Dallas every day. I know how bad traffic is and I know it will only get worse unless a lot more money is spent on local roads, major highways and public transportation.
The real root causes of our traffic congestion are two. One, we are growing faster than we are building roads and rail lines. And two, Collin County is getting screwed by the Federal and State governments with highway tax dollars.
Last year, the federal government took over $6 billion in Texas gas and excise taxes more than was returned in federal highway dollars. According to the Environmental Working Group, only 75 cents is returned to the DFW area for every dollar of gas tax money that goes to Washington.
TxDOT? delighted in referring to Collin County as its biggest "cash cow" in demanding that SH 121 be a toll road, and that the tolls be distributed out of county.
Collin County has elected senior Congressmen, State Representatives and State Senators. We need to hold them responsible for seeing that their constituents get a fair share of transportation dollars. If they can't or won't protect us, we need to elect new representatives who will.
The costs to rebuilt Central Expressway and other major roads will run into the billions of dollars. We can't raise that much in bonds, and we can't rely on a nebulous Pass-Through scheme. As it is, the State is already running out of "Pass-Through" dollars. Future funds will have to come from state bond elections or the Legislature. Neither can be trusted with our future.
We need to do what we can do - build the local, feeder roads, and then we need to demand that our Congressmen and Legislators do their part to bring our fair share of state and federal dollars to this rapidly growing region.
Our future depends on it.
The Collin County Commissioners Court will meet in a workshop session at 7 PM on Thursday, September 20 in the Plano City Hall council chambers.
This year, the court is experimenting quarterly evening workshop meetings in locations around the county. The commissioners hope these evening workshops will attract attendance from citizens who are unable to attend the regular Tuesday morning court sessions.
Topics on the agenda include citizen input and discussion of:
2007 Bond Proposals
Dallas North Tollway construction
The North Texas Behavioral Health Authority
County debt ratios
In workshop meetings, the commissioners court may discuss, hear presentations and comments on agenda items, but may not vote to take final action on any item. Texas law requires that final votes must be done at a regularly scheduled court meeting at the county seat McKinney?.
As is usual with this court, the commissioners also plan to recess into a secret, executive session.
The complete agenda is here
Voters to decide on full slate of ballot items in Collin County
Collin: County's bond plan among proposals on Nov. 6 ballot
12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, September 15, 2007
By BRANDON FORMBY and THEODORE KIM / The Dallas Morning News
Collin County's continued growth is spurring a bevy of bond packages, school district property tax changes, alcohol referendums and city charter amendments that await voter approval at the polls in November.
County voters will weigh in on a $328.9 million bond package. The largest proposition earmarks $235.6 million for road improvements. An additional $76.3 million would go toward expanding the jail, juvenile detention center and courthouse. A third proposition would allocate $17 million for the acquisition and improvement of parkland.
County Judge Keith Self was the sole commissioner to vote against placing the bond package on the ballot. He said he worried that the propositions would drive up the county's debt and might force a tax rate increase.
But other commissioners said the package is needed because several city and county roads desperately need to improve traffic flow. Cities must pay half the cost of roadwork within their boundaries when they use county bond funds. Commissioner Joe Jaynes said many cities couldn't afford the improvements without the county matching funds.
It will be the first countywide bond election since voters approved a $229 million package in 2003.
Voters in Collin County will weigh in on several other issues on the Nov. 6 ballot:
The Collin County Commissioners Court is not presenting its typical unified front for the Nov. 6 bond election as County Judge Keith Self is asking people to vote against all three proposals.
The bond election includes $235.6 million in transportation projects, $17 million in open space projects and $76.3 million in county facilities.
The four commissioners voted for all three bond proposals to be included in the election. However, Self voted against the proposals because he wanted the majority of the money spent on federal and state highways in the county.
“The entire $328.9 million bond amount is $60 million above what we can afford. It’s either going to take our debt service payment from 5.5 percent, which is the traditional level we set our bonds, to increase, cause us to pull money out of the surplus maintenance and operating funds, or raise taxes,” Self said.
He would rather substitute pass-through financing for U.S. 75 for the transportation bond proposal, Self said.
If the bond election fails and the cities have to raise taxes to pay for the proposed road projects, Self said that would be a city issue as his job as county judge is to look over the county issues. “That’s up to the cities. I’m not going to get into city policies. I need to focus on county issues,” Self said.
Commissioner Jerry Hoagland said he and Commissioner Joe Jaynes will meet with mayors of cities who presented projects for the transportation bond proposal at 3 p.m. Friday and at 7 p.m. Monday at the Collin County Association of Realtors office in Plano to discuss promoting the bond proposals. Commissioner Jack Hatchell and Commissioner Phyllis Cole have been asked to attend the Monday meeting. Hoagland said only two commissioners or less may attend the meetings so there is not a quorum of commissioners present. He wishes Self had not asked people to vote against the bond election, Hoagland said.
“I wish he hadn’t done that, but that’s certainly his prerogative. He’s going to have some impact on the bond package. For him to say that eight cities are not represented in the bond election is deceptive. He knows better than that. The eight cities were sent letters asking for them to submit proposals, but their tax base is not significant enough in their cities for them to participate,” Hoagland said.
By Brandi Hart, McKinney Courier-Gazette
Wednesday, August 29, 2007 2:04 AM CDT
The Nov. 6 proposed bond election amount remained unchanged Tuesday as county commissioners took no action on County Judge Keith Self’s proposal to change it from $328.9 million to $271 million.
Self proposed setting a maximum of $271 million for all bond projects and having a moratorium on bond elections for the next nine years. He asked the court to develop criteria to accelerate major highway environmental studies, engineering, design, approval and construction. Self suggested making the congestion of major highways the primary criteria for county funding, with 70 percent devoted to current highway congestion and 30 percent to future congestion.
Commissioner Jerry Hoagland said he did not think it was the county’s responsibility to fund major highways.
“I don’t think the voters would vote for it because they want to see something in their back yards, so to speak. I think we need to hold our local politicians’ feet to the fire,” Hoagland said.
Hoagland also asked Self which nine cities he stated in the last court meeting are not included in the transportation proposal for the Nov. 6 bond. Self said Weston, Blue Ridge, Josephine, Nevada, New Hope, Lowry Crossing, St. Paul, and Royse City, which is partially in Collin County, Hunt County and Rockwall County, are not included. The county asked all cities in the county to submit transportation proposals to be reviewed by the transportation bond committee, and did not receive requests from those cities, according to County Engineer Ruben Delgado.
Commissioner Joe Jaynes agreed with Hoagland. He thought voters would not support a bond election that would fund improvements for highways but not major roadways in their cities. If the county diverted funding for the cities’ street projects, that would increase the cities’ tax rates, Jaynes said. “I think we’re putting the cities in a position to where they have to raise the tax rate. I just don’t see where you’re going to get people to vote for that. The voters will want to see us complete some projects. I just see it as a tax increase for our cities and nothing getting done at first.”
Self also said he included Westminster, but the community is no longer an incorporated city.
Self said he respectfully disagreed with Hoagland as he feels funding state and federal highways is the county’s responsibility.
The commissioners discussed the policy and took no action on it.
McKinney Courier Gazette
Created: Saturday, August 18, 2007 1:18 AM CDT
Collin County voters will determine the fate of a three-proposition, $328.9 million bond package in November. Projects on the bond list include some much-needed thoroughfares, expansion of the new courthouse that was dedicated on Tuesday and additional detention facilities.
All of these items go hand-in-hand with explosive growth, which is why County Judge Keith Self’s “no” votes on all three propositions are so curious.
The disturbing thing is not Self’s negative vote, in and among itself. He has every right to vote as he believes, and his position does likely reflect the views of more than a few Collin County residents who don’t want higher taxes for any reason whatsoever. The Nov. 6 vote will be nowhere near unanimous.
What is disturbing is some of the reasoning behind Self’s dissenting votes. His comments betray a lack of understanding about what is actually going on in the county and about the functioning of county government.
Tuesday, County Judge Keith Self took on the commissioners court by stating that he could not support any of the county's 2007 bond propositions.
Declaring that he "was standing with the taxpayers", Mr. Self instead alienated the commissioners and for that matter virtually every mayor and city council person in the county.
The best quote after Self's vote came from Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Jaynes, who said (of Self), I don't know if he's truly that far off the reservation or if he's posturing for future political office.".
Self told the Dallas Morning News that the bonds would drive up the county's debt and possibly force a tax increase. Smoke-screen arguments about budget busting aside, his main issue is he believes the County should be using bond money to help solve congestion on major highways, instead of local roads.
Self posted on his website,
"I voted against the bond package today, as I previously stated I would. All elements of the package passed 4-1.
The transportation bond proposal does not address the #1 issue among Collin County citizens - congestion on our major highways. You will hear many reasons why this bond election should not address the congestion on our major highways, but I believe that addressing congestion on major highways is the correct use of the county taxes that you pay. $235 million will go a long way to influencing our congestion through strategic spending on timely environmental studies, engineering and design, targeted acquisition of right of way, and yes, even contributing to construction costs. It is widely known that state and federal highway funds are decreasing, which makes our participation even more imperative."
What Judge Self does not mention is that the cities in Collin County rely heavily on the county's bond package to finance their infrastructure. Almost all of the bond proceeds are distributed to approved local projects as a 50% participation with city governments in paying for roads and parks.
By taking on the financing of highways that the State and Federal government traditionally pay, Self would force the local cities and towns to raise their taxes to pay for much needed local streets, or do without.
This writer believes it's a shame that Judge Self would hold hostage the entire $329 million bond package for a moment of political grandstanding.
Collin commissioners call $328.9 million bond election; Self votes 'no' on all proposals
By Brandi Hart, McKinney? Courier-Gazette
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 1:59 PM CDT
Collin County commissioners on Tuesday called a three-proposition, $328.9 million bond election for Nov. 6 that comprises $235.6 million for transportation, $17 million in open space projects, and $76.3 million in county facilities.
County Judge Keith Self voted against all of the bond proposals, which were compiled by committees of county residents. Self voted against the transportation proposal because he wanted to see the money used for state and federal highways, rather than spread out among city and county road projects, he said.
"By us approving the transportation bond proposal, we leave $160 million on the table for pass-through financing that we have no construction money for", Self said at Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting.
Self's comments did not sit well with the commissioners, and caused Commissioner Jerry Hoagland to ask Self not to campaign against the package. Hoagland disagreed with Self's idea that the "backbone" of the transportation funds should be used to support state and federal highways, and called it highly inappropriate.
"These major arterials do not begin and end in Collin County, and forcing us to take on the responsibility of these roads is inappropriate because it's too much for the cities to take on", Hoagland said. "When we appointed the committee members, they had a direction and then you got elected and had a different idea on what they should be focusing on. I think it would be highly inappropriate that we not support their recommendations. I want to publicly ask you to not go out and get this bond election defeated", Hoagland said.
Hoagland said he has been a commissioner since 1983 and this is the way the county has always conducted bond elections.
Self told the commissioners three times that nine cities in the county do not have transportation projects in the bond proposal.
Commissioner Joe Jaynes said those nine cities choose not to be included. All cities in Collin County were asked to submit road and transportation projects to the county. Each city included in the transportation bond proposal must pay for half the cost of the road project, with the county contributing the other half, if voters approve the bond. The cities choosing not to be included in the bond are Blue Ridge, Weston, Nevada, Lavon, Josephine, New Hope, Lowry Crossing, Saint Paul, and Royse City, which lies in Collin County, Hunt County and Rockwall County.
"If we don't partner with the cities, then they will have to take it on themselves to fix the roads. I don't want to do to the cities what I think the state is doing to us", Jaynes said.
Commissioner Phyllis Cole said she respectfully disagreed with Self's opinion about the transportation proposal, as the county has a close working relationship with the cities.
Commissioner Jack Hatchell said commissioners are essential to helping cities fund transportation projects. Hatchell also said he appreciated the committee members' work on the proposals.
Self said he heard what the commissioners were saying, but the pass through financing is vitally important for the county to get reimbursement for monies paid for the expansion of federal and state highways.
A proposal to build a juvenile justice facility was tabled for two years.
The open space bond money would be used to for various open space and park projects, such as improvements to the Collin County Adventure Camp in Westminster that is affiliated with the YMCA and Myers Park.
Self also voted against the open space and park bond proposal and the facility bond proposal because he said it did not make sense to vote against the more expensive transportation bond proposal and support the other proposals as they are all part of the same bond.
Voters will be able to vote on each proposition separately on the ballot this fall.
After my complaint to the County Judge (see below), Collin County posted the presentations and proposals from the Bond Committee and from the coalition supporting the Family Justice Center.
I have uploaded these documents. You can view or download them by looking on the lists of files on the right hand side of this page. Look for "2007 Bond Election" near the bottom of the page, and click to view or download.
I will continue to post relevant files and links as they become available.
Major Highways or local roads?
Tuesday, the commissioners are to vote on the 2007 Bond Package. In Sunday's Dallas Morning News, Judge Self and Commissioner Jaynes sparred over the transportation bonds.
Keith Self stated he will vote against the bond issue because it does not address the major highways, which he believes are critical to accommodate the growth in traffic. Jaynes supports the bonds, believing that the County must take care of what it can, while the state and feds have the responsibility for major highways.
Judge Self is also locking horns with Commissioner Phyllis Cole over a bond proposal to fund a Family Justice Center. She wants it, he doesn't.
With this much controversy before the bonds are even presented to the voters, the county will have to mount a real PR campaign to get the voters to agree on any new bonds.
McKinney Courier Gazette
Editorial Saturday, August 4, 2007
Collin County commissioners are in the process of determining what projects will go into a bond package to be presented to voters in November. Roads, parks and other facilities will be the major items on the list, but a debate is brewing whether to add a county family violence justice center.
The 60,000-square-foot center, as presented to commissioners, would include office space for several non-profit agencies, as well as employees of the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices, and the health department.
Proponents of the county center believe it will save Collin County more than $300,000 per year because all services would be under one roof, and danger would be reduced. Commissioner Phyllis Cole said the county is building enough jails and juvenile detention centers, while Melissa Mayor David Dorman, a 2008 commissioner candidate, believes that the county should do something because the non-profits are doing a job for the county.
Members of the facilities committee did not recommend the center be placed in the bond package because, as committee member Sharon Easley said, the services provided by the non-profits are not a function of county government and there is no empirical evidence that a center would save money for the county.
Both sides have valid arguments. That’s why the issue should be left to the voters.
Non-profit agencies such as the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, the Turning Point Rape Crisis Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Hope’s Door do yeoman’s work without much funding and with many volunteers. Their fund-raising success speaks to the commitment that county residents have for the organizations. The efficiency of these organizations would certainly improve if they had down-the-hall access to prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies - not to mention each other. Imagine a Turning Point client being told all she needed to do to file charges against an assailant is walk to the next office, escorted by a counselor. Imagine the Children’s Advocacy Center and CASA working side by side to help a child in distress.
But one reason for the rise of conservatism in U.S. politics is the desire for less government. The basis of President Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” program is to transfer some charity work from public to private enterprise. Taxpayers want to pay for fewer things, not more.
The decision what to do, though, should be with the voters. Let them decide if they want to consolidate family violence agencies or stick with the status quo. That is the reason democracy was created.
And that is the reason counties have bond elections: So the citizens can decide how their tax dollars are spent.