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City of El Paso debt=$2,670,400,000, county and school district debt=$1,600,000,000. Total $4.27 billion. Your share $19,350
Updated: 35 min 19 sec ago

A student who seems to care

Sun, 07/21/2019 - 5:00am

Johnathan Michael Muniz Becerra, aTerry Scholar at UTEP sent us an email that contained this:

Furthermore, I’m currently conducting a quality of life study for the city of El Paso to see what worthwhile investments are needed to really improve the quality of life within the city. I’m investigating various industries within the city from healthcare to education. In my honest opinion, I believe El Paso suffers from the following:
    • Brain drain
    • Low wages
    • Questionable municipal management
    • Poor investments that do little to enhance the quality of life and continuously bring low-skill, low-wage jobs (e.g. the subsidized ball park, enormous incentives to bring the Great Wolf Lodge)
From the observations I’ve been able to make, it seems El Paso leaders and investors take advantage of citizen’s ignorance regarding city management and the impact the decisions of El Paso leaders will have on them. Link to survey

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RX3XL8N

 

A request from Brutus

Please keep your comments respectful.  We could help him by pointing out other deficiencies.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Saturday’s open comments

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 5:00am

Saturday is the day that we open up the blog to topics that the readers choose.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Looks like an increase to us

Fri, 07/19/2019 - 5:00am

Here is the city’s own chart that shows what they want us to believe the tax rate will be if a $940 million bond is approved by the voters:

Contrary to what we are hearing from the city the chart shows a significant increase in taxes.

Note that even without the new bonds it won’t be until the year 2031 before we have paid enough money on already existing debt for the tax rate to go down.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Getting officers out on the street

Thu, 07/18/2019 - 7:50am

Part of the way our police department people are trying to justify their $287 million portion of the bond being considered is that they will try to get 60% of their sworn officers assigned to patrol duty.

Evidently they spend the rest of their time doing administrative work.

The 60% number comes from a national organization that recommends that level for larger police departments.

It seems that El Paso is below that number and if we give them a lot of money they will somehow come up to standard.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Simple way to resolve the arena issue

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 5:00am

The city does not have to go through with building the multipurpose performing arts and entertainment center (commonly referred to as the arena).

In The bond election can be revoked we pointed out a state law that allows the voters the option of cancelling the authority to issue previously approved bonds.

Shouldn’t city council put the issue to a test?

If enough voters decide to revoke the bonds then the center cannot be built unless another election occurs where the voters approve it.

If there are not enough votes to revoke the bonds then the voters would have spoken and the city should build the center.

Sounds simple enough

We would also avoid the mounting costs of litigation.

The statute is found in chapter 1252 of the Texas Government Code.

Contact your city representative and ask them to vote to call the election.  You should also ask the mayor.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Proud to thwart transparency

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 7:08am

As part of the city’s 2020 budget process this slide was included to tell us what their legal department did last year:

Note that they tell us that they processed 5,469 open records requests.

They seem to be proud of the fact that they got the Texas attorney general to support denying release of information on 482 of them.

They could of told us that they handled the requests so well that on average they responded within X days, thus providing good service and promoting transparency.

Instead they focused on telling us how often they were able to deny information.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Searching for a solution

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 5:00am

This slide comes from the city’s preliminary budget presentations for 2020:

Note that they plan to stabilize our tax base next year.  That will be hard to do.

They plan to expand the downtown efforts, talk to the other local governments, and work on incentive policies.

In other words they haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

City property tax rate increasing?

Sun, 07/14/2019 - 5:00am

Max Grossman sent this in:

The El Paso Times and KTSM are reporting that the City of El Paso wants to raise our property taxes by $0.04, to a total of $0.88 per every $100 of valuation. I have taken the liberty of updating the City’s property tax chart to show what this new increase will look like. The City will have raised our property tax by 33% in only seven years (!!!), far beyond the other local taxing entities. This is in spite of the fact that our population is not only flat, but actually declining. As we know, El Paso has the second highest homestead property tax among the fifty largest cities in the United States–and that is before the proposed tax hike.

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We deserve better

Brutus

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Saturday

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 5:00am

We had a lively day on the blog yesterday.

Today is Saturday so the readers get to pick the topics.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Highest property tax rate

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 10:11am

Some of the other local blogs have been talking about El Paso having the second highest tax rate among the 50 largest cities in the United States.

Below is the bottom part of a chart found on page 69 of the June 2019, 50 State Property Tax Comparison Study for taxes paid in 2018:

Yes for median value homes without assessment limits we have the highest (that means that we are number 1) property tax rate among the 50 largest cities in the United States.

Note that our rate of 2.64% is more than twice the national average

City staff is recommending that council add another 4 cents to the rate this year.

It seems that they are also recommending that council call a bond election that if passed would add another 15 cents to the rate.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Keeping track of who said what

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 7:11am

Recently some of the regular readers of the blog have contacted us about the use of “anonymous” as a name.

No one was concerned about the right to anonymity.  Instead they were having difficulty addressing their responses to the right comment.

Their concern could be alleviated if people used unique names or pseudonyms when they make a comment.

It would not be necessary to use the same pseudonym each time.

Do as you wish, however please remain civil and keep it clean.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

It could happen, but I’m not holding my breath

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 5:00am

I doubt that I will get my wish but here are some things I would like to see in our next Mayor:

  • Understanding the statutes that are in place that control how our city government is allowed to operate and seeing to it that those statutes are obeyed
  • A practice of conducting city business in view of the public.  The Texas Open Meetings Act allows closed meetings (AKA executive session) for limited reasons, not because city council wants to avoid public input or observation.
  • A view toward spending that recognizes we have limited resources, that we have basic needs that are not being fulfilled, and that those needs need to be fulfilled before spending money on things that might be nice but that we cannot afford
  • A decent respect to the opinions of the citizens
  • The understanding that elected officials are the servants of the citizens, not their bosses

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Sun Metro continues to shrink

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 5:00am

Sun Metro’s performance numbers are out for the period ending May, 2019 (their third fiscal quarter):

Notice that ridership is down another 6.7% for the year.

2018 had a 5% decrease from 2017.

2017 had a 9.3% decrease from 2016.

2016 had a 9.2% decrease from 2015.

For the month of May 2019 the cost per trip was $5.22 compared to $3.73 for the same month in 2018.

Its time for a change.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Looking back

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 5:43am

I wonder what will be said about our current mores 250 years from now.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Choosing to be uninformed

Sun, 07/07/2019 - 5:00am

Holthink published this post recently.

In it Mr. Holt makes a good point.

Years ago, when there were fewer ways to get entertainment, virtually all broadcast stations (radio and TV) featured the news at the top of every hour.

There was no point in switching stations because the news was on every station.

Now people can avoid the news by switching to something else.

Then again many of us have heard  “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed.  If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”  I would like to attribute that to the author but cannot figure out who might have said it.

“An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”–Thomas Jefferson

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Living within our means

Sat, 07/06/2019 - 5:00am

Our recent posts about residential, commercial, industrial, and apartment property tax rates showed that we have tax rates higher than virtually every other city among the 50 largest cities in the United States.

Remember that the voters have authorized funding a $180 million multi-purpose performing arts center and hundreds of millions in school district bonds that have not been sold yet and thus have not been added to our tax burden yet.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

No way to avoid high property taxes in El Paso

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 5:00am

If a commercial or industrial firm was considering opening a facility in El Paso and the managers/owners did not want to move to El Paso they would probably rent apartments.

El Paso had the second highest property tax rate applied to apartments of the 50 largest cities in the United States during 2018.

Those property taxes get passed through to the renters.

For those who cannot afford to buy a house that means high taxes.  For those that want to continue to live out of town but need a place to stay while they are here it means high taxes.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Independence day

Thu, 07/04/2019 - 5:00am

From our Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

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They fought for our freedom.

I celebrate that today.

This was better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Another group that we are not attracting.

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 5:00am

We recently wrote about El Paso having the highest industrial property tax rate among the 50 largest cities in the United States during the 2018 tax year.

Next we talked about El Paso having the highest residential property tax rate for smaller homes and the second highest rate on larger homes in those same cities.

How did we compare on commercial properties (like call centers, transportation companies and others–as opposed to industrial facilities)?

El Paso had the third highest property tax rate on all sizes of commercial properties during that period.

People who own those kinds of commercial businesses will probably find it hard to justify moving to El Paso and facing the third highest property tax rates on their commercial businesses and the first or second highest rates on their homes.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

When taxes hit home

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 5:00am

In How not to try to attract industry we pointed out that El Paso had the highest industrial tax rate among the 50 largest cities in the United States for the 2018 tax year.

According to the report we were citing El Paso also had the highest residential tax rate on homesteaded median value homes in areas where there were  assessment limits.

Median value evidently meant less than $150,000.  That means that we taxed the people living in lower value homes proportionately more than anyone else.

For homes valued between $150,000 and $300,000 El Paso’s tax rate was the second highest among the 50 largest cities.

People that manage businesses that are considering a move to El Paso probably fall into the higher home value range.

We offer them the opportunity to be like many El Pasoans and pay the second highest rate shown.

Is it any wonder that people are leaving town and that we don’t attract companies?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut