Galveston County welcomes you to our Debt Obligation webpage. It is our objective to provide the public with clear, understandable and searchable information regarding the county's debt obligations.
Many costs of county government are paid from monetary inflows collected during the approximate time period in which those monetary outflows occur. For example, property taxes, a major source of county inflows, are collected throughout the year, and they are therefore also available throughout the year to pay for routine operating needs such as employee salaries, supplies, office furnishings, etc.
However, from time to time the county must undertake high-dollar, multi-year projects for which it is impractical to pay from current financial resources. In such instances, the county may choose to issue long-term debt(1), a financing mechanism whereby investors loan the county money in return for the county’s promise to repay them their principal(2), plus interest(3), over an agreed-upon span of years. While some types of long-term debt can be issued at the discretion of the county’s Commissioners Court, other types require advance voter approval at a general election.
Common examples of projects that might be funded with long-term debt include:
a) The construction or major renovation of county facilities;
b) The building of, or major improvements made to, county roadways; and
c) The implementation or maintenance of flood control measures.
In addition to issuing debt to fund long-term projects, the county from time to time also issues debt to retire existing debt when doing so decreases its future interest expense. The county works with an investment advisor to determine when such market opportunities exist.
It is important that taxpayers have a knowledge of the county’s long-term debt position and requirements because a portion of their property taxes is dedicated specifically to pay long-term debt principal and interest. Additionally, a single issuance of long-term debt can obligate the county to make payments over as many as twenty, or even thirty, years, so the county’s decisions to issue debt can have financial implications for its citizens for decades.
Galveston County publishes detailed information about its long-term debt yearly in its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. In addition, it is proud to participate in the State Comptroller’s Debt Obligations Financial Transparency Star program, because it believes this enhances citizens’ understanding of this important component of county finance that directly impacts their own monetary outflows.
Please view our Debt Information Summary Page for information including the total outstanding debt obligations of the county, tax-supported debt obligations expressed total and per capita amounts and historical bond election information which includes date of election, purpose and amount.
Click here to view the Debt Information Summary.
(1) A “debt” is something owed by one person or organization to another – in this sense, a legal, contractual obligation to pay or return money.
(2) “Principal” is the amount of a debt, exclusive of interest [see 3), below]. For example, the county typically issues long-term bonds of $5,000.00 in principal - the “face value” amount it will repay to the investor who loans it money.
(3) “Interest” is the cost of money – in this sense, an amount paid in return for a loan, in return for being allowed the use of another person’s or organization’s money. Interest is generally calculated as a percentage of the related principal loaned.
County Credit Ratings
The County of Galveston maintains independent ratings from recognized credit rating agencies including Moody's Investors Service, Inc. and Fitch Ratings, Inc. on its general-obligation debt that evaluate the county's financials strength and its ability to pay its existing bonds. The current credit ratings for the county are as follows:
*The rating from Moody's Service Rating was upgraded from Aa1 to Aaa in January 2017.
Obligations rated Aaa by Moody's Investors Service, Inc. are defined by Moody as having the highest quality, subject to the lowest level of credit risk.
Obligations rated AA+ by Fitch Ratings are defined by Fitch as very high credit quality, denoting expectations of very low default risk. This rating indicates very strong capacity for payment of financial commitments.
The graph below illustrates the county's total outstanding tax-supported debt for the last five fiscal years.
The graph below illustrates the county's inflation adjusted tax-supported debt per capita for the last five fiscal years.
Additional Debt Information
(Note: For all debt information within each Adopted Budget, search the keyword "debt" by using CTRL + F)
Time Trend For Total Outstanding Tax-Supported Debt For Last 10 years
For more information on County Debt, please visit the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts Debt at a Glance website.
For Elected/Appointed Official contact information, please click here.
At this time, there is a bond election scheduled for November 7, 2017. The total bond amount is $80 million for the purpose of roads ($56 million), buildings ($18 million) and flood control ($6 million).
(Note: Some of the above files require Mircorsoft Excel and Microsoft Word in order to utilize.)