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Grimes County Happy to be Debt Free

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Grimes County has been operating in the red to the tune of millions.

Just trying to keep up with growth, left them with empty pockets and heavily in debt.

But Monday, the county was proud to announce it's debt free.

As Grimes county has grown, so has it's debt.

But not anymore.

"I'm so proud of Grimes county because we did it working together," says County Judge James Dixon.

Judge Dixon, Commissioners and County Auditor Buck LaQuey decided to turn things around.

So they changed their fiscal year, gave department heads complete control over their budgets and simply paid the bills.

Now, they have erased their debt.

"It opens up avenues for us to take care of our county that we didn't have before," said Dixon.

The county was basically borrowing money on its good name, to pay for a multi million dollar jail expansion. But the county auditor says not only is the facility not worth what they paid, it is a prime example of bad debt.

"I'm saying borrowing money against taxes that's what we need to stay away from," said LaQuey.

LaQuey says as long as the county doesn't raise taxes and doesn't borrow money, it could actually save money.

"How you go about it is very important you can go about it in a debt mode or you pay as you go," said LaQuey.

But surprisingly, working against them is the state legislature.

LaQuey says because they have virtually no debt, that triggers a possible roll back in taxes...which threatens their income.

"You want an incentive to pay debt off, not spend more," said LaQuey.

A minor setback isn't enough to change the county's new habit of spending what they make, and making what they spend.

With a new found freedom, the county plans to increase courthouse security...build a new annex and improve roads.

But all plans are subject to what's in the budget.