Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Debt can be good when planned properly
By By the Advocate Editorial Board
April 8, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Updated April 7, 2014 at 11:08 p.m.
Debt is a word most people prefer to avoid. Unfortunately, in today's society, debt is often a necessary part of doing business.
Victoria County voters will soon have another $6.5 million in debt through a bond issue meant to pay for improvements and renovation of some county properties. The debt is scheduled to be paid over a 20-year period and will end up costing taxpayers about $9.9 million, $3.4 million of which will be interest.
To the everyday citizen, this is a lot of money. However, this money will be used to complete work that the county needs to continue functioning. Much like the city of Victoria, Victoria County is constantly fighting the ongoing battle of street repair and maintenance. As one street is repaired, others deteriorate from age and constant use. It is a never-ending cycle that all government entities are familiar with, and we are glad to see the county is taking steps to address these concerns.
The money will also be used to renovate the Hartman warehouse and the old fire house and to demolish buildings at the airport. The Hartman warehouse building is planned to be renovated to create more office space and a courtroom for justice of the peace, Precinct 1. The historic firehouse on the same block would also be renovated to offer more courtroom space. Victoria County officials have expressed the need for more courtrooms before, and now that District Attorney Steve Tyler plans to do away with plea bargains for misdemeanor DWI cases, that need will be even greater. Adding even one courtroom will help alleviate that need.
These projects are important parts of the county's infrastructure that we will need in the future, especially as our community continues to grow. Some would argue that the work should be handled in smaller, more affordable pieces, but there is a flaw in that logic. As time passes, the work and materials necessary to complete these projects will only get more expensive. It would be better to take care of as much as possible now while the county has a good credit rating, is able to afford the debt and has a clear plan for expansion. In addition, the interest rates are currently at a low level, but we do not know how long these low rates will continue to be available.
All the conditions are right for the county to take this action now, and we applaud the commissioners court and other county leaders for seeing this and taking action. We look forward to seeing the positive effects these improvements will have on our community.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.