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Amarillo's debt per capita lowest in Texas

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AMARILLO - Amarillo is doing better than the rest of the state when it comes to debt. That's according to new data released Tuesday by the state comptroller's office 

Amarillo is the only major city in Texas with a debt per capita less than $1,000 and city leaders expect that amount to keep falling. 

Amarillo's debt per capita is only $982. Compared to more than $7,000 in San Antonio, more than $4,000 in Lubbock, and more than $2,000 in El Paso.

"It's us being fiscally responsible and careful about how we spend every penny," Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole said.

Harpole wanted to make clear the data doesn't include debt tied to property tax, which is about $30 million, but says that's still very low and something to be proud of.

"It's extremely low," he said. "Lower than any other city of our size in the state of Texas and most other states."

But it's not just the responsibility of city leaders that's kept this data looking so good. Amarillo hospitals don't contribute any debt to the city.

"We have two private companies that run the hospitals out here and with a strong area medical, regional group, we just don't carry debt like that," Vice President of Amarillo National Bank Patrick Ware said.

The airport is another factor to the low debt. Built on an existing airbase, Amarillo never accrued much debt to build it or keep it up. One of many fiscally responsible moves Ware attributes to past and present city leaders.

"We've got to really be proud of the prudence our city commission has shown over the last 20 years, especially during the recession," Ware said. "That wasn't the time to issue any debt and I think that's really going to help us in the next ten years when the economy does start to improve." 

Another huge factor in Amarillo's low debt is that the city has one of five Texas cities with a triple a bond rating meaning lower rates that save taxpayers thousands of dollars.

 

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