Booming Collin County, Texas, calls for a $750 million bond vote

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DALLAS – Commissioners in Collin County, Texas, will ask voters for a record $750 million of bond authority to expand roads and highways in the booming suburbs north of Dallas.

At their Monday meeting, commissioners unanimously passed three propositions for the Nov. 6 election ballot with a goal of keeping property tax rates flat.

The proceeds would finance $600 million of freeways, $140 million of major roads, and $10 million for parks and trails and other open spaces.

Among the proposals is a new north-south highway east of the major thoroughfare of U.S. Highway 75, building an outer loop and improving U.S. Highway 380.

Collin County Judge Keith Self said the county expects to call another bond election in five years. The county’s last bond election in November 2007 saw voters approve $328 million of bonds, including $285 million for transportation.

"Throughout this process, we must maintain our focus on building a robust transportation network that can handle double our current population," Self wrote in a letter to residents.

Commissioners expect to identify road projects annually, with cities presenting proposals with a funding match already allocated. Commissioners would then decide whether to fund the projects.

The county seat of McKinney where commissioners meet was once considered a distant commute to downtown Dallas. But the business boom in the northern suburbs has brought with it a grid of transit projects, including toll roads financed by the North Texas Toll Road Authority and mass transit links through Dallas Area Rapid Transit. DART is in the process of building a 26-mile rail line called the Cotton Belt Line that will connect Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Plano, one of the county’s fastest-growing cities.

Based on current projections, Collin County will double in population by 2030 and will outgrow Dallas and Tarrant counties with more than 3.5 million residents by 2050. McKinney's 180,000 population is expected to reach 284,000 in 20 years.

The triple-A-rated county has a population of 885,241 and a density of 1,052 people per square mile. The county's per capita personal income is in the first quartile at $59,146. The county has become a hub for corporate headquarters, including the U.S. operations of the Toyota Corp.

“Collin County has the highest quality credit position, and its Aaa rating exceeds the median rating of Aa2 for US counties,” Moody’s analyst Benjamin Howard noted in an annual report on the county. “The key credit factors include a very strong financial position, and an immense tax base with an affluent socioeconomic profile. It also incorporates an extremely small debt liability with a mid-ranged pension burden.”

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