Making sense of the 2012 bond election

The easy thing to do is to vote for the 2012 bond package, which will spend $641 million to repair streets, prevent flooding, and promote economic development in south Dallas. Those are things that need to be done, and done quickly.

But I can’t shake the suspicion that we’re being sold a bill of goods by the same people who have told us we need the Trinity toll road and a signature bridge; that everything is fine at the dog pound and at the city dump; and that the budget is under control and we’re not cutting anything that we really need, like 911 operators.

The pot hole money is especially disturbing, since that should not be included in a bond project. It should be paid for out of the budget, and that the bosses downtown have to resort to borrowing money to pay to fix pot holes shows (yet again) how badly they have managed the city’s budget over the past five years. Also worrisome:  debt service is currently 11 1/2 percent of the budget, and this will bump it another couple of points – further reducing budget flexibility.

And no, I am not reassured that the bond package will work miracles “all without raising taxes,” the mantra that was repeated six times in a pro-bond election mailing I got.

Still, we need the work done. And the few sane members of the council have agreed to it, so this is probably the best we can do given the situation. I just wish I could trust the people downtown.


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