Early voting in the November 7 election began Monday at polling locations across Fort Bend County, where voters will consider two county bond propositions for mobility and parks projects, the second Fort Bend Independent School District voter-approved tax rate election (VATRE) in as many years, another VATRE from Stafford Municipal School District, and a bond proposal from Lamar Consolidated School District.
Like their counterparts statewide, Fort Bend voters will also cast votes in 14 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.
In an off-year election without any big-ticket elected positions on the ballot, turnout is expected to be light, although the bond propositions and tax-rate elections could drive particularly tuned-in voters to the polls.
In recent days, the county's total $865.6 million bond proposals, the largest in the county's history, has garnered increased activity. The bond propositions consist of 98 mobility projects for Proposition A for a total of $712.6 million and Proposition B related to parks projects for a total of $153 million.
The Taxpayers Coalition, which describes itself as "a grassroots organization focused on financial transparency and accountability in local government," has issued a series of opinion articles opposing the bonds, claiming that officials have obfuscated the impact the bond issues would have on taxpayers.
In one article, which was published as a guest column by the Fort Bend Star, the organization said that in public presentations on the bonds, county officials "misled taxpayers by stating that they have reduced the tax rate every year since 2008 and state that the county can take on more bond debt to the tune of $150 million per year. As we all know the appraisal rates have been double digit and our total tax bills have been increasing significantly."
Fort Bend County Judge KP George, who voted with all of his Commissioners Court colleagues to put the bond proposals forward, responded to criticism of the bonds by issuing a statement late last week.