The Williamson County Commissioners Court discussed the next steps for completing road bond projects during a regular meeting Feb. 14, in preparation for further conversations the elected officials will have on Feb. 17 regarding infrastructure and capital improvement projects.

The court discussed the possibility of delaying projects outlined in the voter-approved bond program from 2019—a $412 million package meant to fund new construction and expansion of roads. According to Precinct 2 County Commissioner Cynthia Long, the cost of right-of-way has more than doubled since the election while construction costs have “dramatically increased” due to inflation.

“We are at a place where we’ve got to make some decisions on how we move forward, whether we pause construction on some of the projects that have been engineered [or] whether we look at other funding resources,” she said.

Since the county began its road bond program in 2000, four successful elections have resulted in more than 197 completed projects and the construction of nearly 877 lane miles. According to the county’s January construction summary report, six projects from the 2019 road bond are in the design phase, and one project has been completed in Precinct 1. In Precinct 2, seven projects are in design, one project is under construction, and one project completed. Precinct 3 has six projects in the design process, five projects underway, and four projects completed. Lastly, Precinct 4 has 18 projects in the design stages, eight under construction and six have wrapped up.

Precinct 4 County Commissioner Russ Boles said he believes all of the road projects are important and wants to see the program continued, citing concerns of future increases in construction costs.

“The money is not there, currently,” he said. “There’s no reason other than things have gotten more expensive. ... Every year we don’t do this, it becomes more expensive.”

The county has worked to budget projects in a way that results in leftover money flowing back into the program. Precinct 3 County Commissioner Valerie Covey said the county has also attempted to address right-of-way costs by selling $200 million worth of tax anticipation notes, which governments use to borrow money and repay the debt using future tax collections, although a portion of those dollars also went into county facilities.

Meanwhile, it would cost around $130 million to complete the remainder of the 2019 road bond projects. Covey said part of the court’s discussion moving forward will be how the county can make up for this shortfall.

“Do we finish these projects that the voters approved? Yes, I think we should,” she said. “How we do that, that’s what we need to decide.”

The court will meet to further discuss infrastructure and capital improvement projects on Feb. 17 at 9:30 a.m. at the Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown.