Certificates of Obligation, or COs, let local governments issue debt without voter approval. They are supposed to give officials a way to cope with emergencies, like natural disasters; but, as I’ve argued in the past, COs are increasingly used as a way for officials to spend on feel-good projects or things that voters would never approve of.
The latest evidence of this trend comes courtesy of Bexar County.
Yesterday’s Watchdog reports that Bexar County officials are spending $735,000 on a 60-foot high aluminum sculpture called Plethora, which will be located in the main plaza of San Pedro Creek. The project will be funded through a CO and is expected to cost taxpayers an additional $60,000 in interest payments.
Projects like this reinforce the need for local debt reform and measures to strengthen fiscal discipline locally.