Midland County Clears Debts Early

Midland County Clears Debts Early

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY - We've all heard the expression, "the early bird gets the worm," well Midland County is early about 11 years in clearing out a debt from 2004. That means they have $1.8 million dollars extra for other projects.

Nearly 10 years ago, Midland County took on a nearly $9 million debt to put up the Horseshoe facility for the community.

"Our fund balance was kinda low at that point in time and the decision of commissioners court at that point in time was it was the best option," Midland County Auditor, Veronica Morales, said.

Now they've paid off the remaining debt in one lump sum, which is $6.6 million.

By paying all that money now, the county would be saving the $1.8 million they would have accrued in interest.

"Respective to sales taxes and what revenue we're getting, it may not be alot with respect to that number but we have the funds available and if we have the funds available, we'd rather save that money," Morales said.

Officials say they could dish out the dough because they have a lot more money coming in.

"Our sales tax has really grown over the years. Back from 2005 to actually 2010, there's been like an 80 percent increase in sales tax that we've been collecting, just because of our economy here," Morales said.

That increase has also led to Midland County having the lowest property tax rate in the state.

Since the Horseshoe Project, they've only had one other item that had to be paid for with debt and that was to expand the jail in 2009.

The county hasn't had to take on any debt for its investments in the new courthouse and state-of-the art Centennial Branch Library, even though that cost is a combined $33 million in the past four years.

Based on last years numbers, the county has about $58 million towards their budget.

"It all goes into one same pool, the property taxes and sales taxes, it goes into our general fund pool," Morales said.

That money contributes to spending across multiple departments, including capital projects and county employee salaries. The commissioners next purchases include a new software system for the county employees and a $23.5 million Horseshoe expansion project. A pre-trial bond building and construction for the library downtown will also contribute to some smaller scale expenses, all of which have already been budgeted for 2014. Now the only outstanding debt they have is roughly $20 million towards the jail expansion.