Today’s Farm&City Stat of the Day: Williamson County leads Texas in debt

Stat of the Day, Texurban

Williamson and Hays County – the north and south ends of the Austin metro region – have more tax supported debt per capita than any other Texas counties with more than 50,000 residents.

Each resident of Williamson County is responsible for $2,498 in public debt, while each resident of Hays County bears $2,090 in public debt, according to the Texas Comptroller’s Debt-At-A-Glance website.

This compares to just $750 in public debt for each resident of the urban core of the Austin region – Travis County, $700 in Harris County – Houston’s urban core, and only $26 per person in Dallas County and $223 per person in Tarrant – the two urban cores of the Dallas Fort Worth region.

In terms of total debt, Williamson County is only third in Texas – with a total tax supported debt of $1,320,901,658 – behind Bexar – $2,718,935,950 – and Harris – $3,212,667,903. Yet Bexar and Harris are the 4th and 1st largest counties in the state with 5 and 15 times as many jobs as Williamson, respectively.

According to our analysis of county appraisal district data, Williamson County was worth about $57 billion in 2016 – the total property value of all properties in the county – and Hays is worth about $15 billion.

Total tax supported debt as a percent of fair market value is an interesting way to compare a county’s fiscal status. County public debt accounts for almost 3% of the total value of Hays and over 2% of the value of Williamson, but only about 0.5% of the value of Travis.

We’re working on a more in depth report looking at this debt. Key concepts that we must explore and understand is how forecasts of county growth and road spending play into these seemingly troubling stats.

(Williamson County Courthouse photo credit: A Lee, some rights reserved)

Today’s Farm&City Stat of the Day: Texas kids outnumbering immigrants

Stat of the Day, Texurban

Texas led the nation in population growth from July 2016 to July 2017, according to the Austin Business Journal‪‬. This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone living in our rapidly growing major metros.

However, that growth was not led by immigration to the state as some might perceive, but instead dominated by natural increase – Texans having more children than Texans dying.

Last year, 210,000 more Texans were added as a result of natural increase, while only 190,000 came from outside the state (domestic and international immigration).

Public policy discussion in Austin has been dominated by a discourse of bigotry against “California tech bros” and similar epithets seemed acceptable under the guise of opposing housing in the CodeNEXT process. But this story largely rings untrue in the actual data. Growth in the City of Austin has been dominated by additional people of color, including many children of existing city residents.

We hope to staff up our Texurban department to provide the people of Texas’ major metros with more meaningful understandings of our tremendous growth – with a focus on the Austin region this year in the Growing Weirder Project. Growth policies based upon honest understandings of our reality and our potential can lead to better results for the Texans of today and tomorrow.