Frequently Asked Questions - Q13


Wouldn’t the proposed charter amendment then, in effect, give Houstonians the right to commence voting on revenue bonds, something they now cannot do? Why is that now a good idea, when not before?


Good questions. Houstonians today get to vote only on public improvement bonds, about 17% of the City’s current unpaid long-term debt. “ Revenue bonds” (mostly water and sewer), that Houstonians do not get to vote on, comprise the greater portion of the other 83% of the City’s unpaid long-term debt. Voter approval of revenues in excess of the specified threshold is required under this amendment, whether the additional revenues are needed for operating, capital or debt service needs. Thus, the city council is forced into prioritizing financial needs citywide and even debt service, regardless of type, and become better fiscal managers. The need to force long-term debt into coordinated overall financial planning becomes painfully evident when you consider that the City’s bonded debt has increased about 144% just since 1992, far outstripping the combined growth rate of inflation and population.

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