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Nueces County moves to issue $40.5M for infrastructure projects

Nueces County commissioners have voted unanimously to issue more than $40 million in new debt to help address a number of infrastructure needs, but what those projects will be is still unknown.

County leaders have identified nearly 300 different items that need to be addressed, which were combined into 30 Capital Improvement Plan project packages. Those ranged from county road repairs and a new community center to improvements at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds and county courthouse.

Commissioners voted on Wednesday to issue $40.5 million in Texas tax notes to pay for the first round of work, though they acknowledged that those projects in that phase have not been identified just yet. Tax notes are a different form of debt that allows the county to issue them without specifying what projects its proceeds will fund, as would be the case with Certificates of Obligation.

Neither form of debt requires voter approval to be issued.

"We've not yet determined, based off what I've heard from you all, as to what you really want to fund, so the $40 million will give you an opportunity to fund literally anything that is in your CIP," said Noe Hinojosa, with Estrada Hinojosa and Co.

Tax notes only allow up to a seven-year repayment plan, which would result in high annual debt payments, Hinojosa said. So the county will have to do a second step by issuing revenue bonds in November that will allow the repayment plan to be spread over 20 years, leading to more manageable annual payments, he said.

County Judge Barbara Canales said that the money will allow the county to move forward with its $120 million Capital Improvement Plan, which will be addressed in phases over the next several years.

"This would be the first piece of investment for our county's benefit, welfare and infrastructure," Canales said.

Pct. 1 County Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn said that the move by the court was one meant to stop "passing the buck down the road." She said the county has "so many problems that need to be fixed," and can't be ignored any longer.

"I'm conservative, so some may look at me and say, 'I can't believe you're doing that,' " Vaughn said. "Well, I don't want to be in a do-nothing commissioners court — I don't — so I think we have to do this, or we're going to keep deteriorating in our county."

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