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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: 50 min 51 sec ago

How do we know we got the best deal?

12 hours 2 min ago

Why is it that the city did not ask for competitive offers from the companies that build hotels with indoor waterparks?

Would any of them have turned out to be a better deal for us?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Is it a convention center or just a meeting room?

Sun, 11/18/2018 - 5:00am

The idea that the proposed water park will also be a convention center is a bad joke that is being played at the expense of the public.

The plans presented to the city detail a convention facility of 10,000 square feet.

By way of comparison our downtown convention center features 133,000 square feet.

A football field is 48,000 square feet.  This center would fit within the first 20 yards.

Tradeshowexecutive.com ranks convention centers into four tiers with tier IV being the smallest.  They consider the minimum size of a tier IV center to be 50,000 square feet.

It is hard to imagine that the Texas comptroller will consider this facility to be a convention center and so, according to the terms the city has offered the developer, the taxpayers of El Paso will have to pay the developer $40 million.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Poor attendance

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 5:00am

The citizen’s bond advisory committee for the EPISD bond issue is having attendance problems.

It looks like the group is doing the right thing and is starting to replace members who don’t show up for meetings.

These people have a responsibility to us citizens.  Those who cannot attend regularly should resign and get out of the way.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Water park incentive totals

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 5:00am

What are the totals for the tax breaks/incentives/gifts that the city and county are donating to the water park?

Known fixed amounts
  • $5 million from the city as a development grant
  • $18.6 million land gift
  • $40 million either from the city or in sales tax rebates from the state.  If the state declines the city must pay.
  • $526,100 from the tax increment reinvestment district
  • $4,295,094 from the county

There are probably amounts that I have missed but the ones above total $68,421,194.

Committed but variable amounts
  • $29,505,000 from the consultant’s feasibility report (hotel occupancy tax rebates, local sales tax rebates, and property tax rebates)

That comes to $97,926,194 on a project where the developer promised the county a minimum $100 million investment but told the city that it would be over $150 million.

Most of us would take that deal.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD bond management

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 5:00am

Ross Moore sent this in:

The purpose of this E-Mail is to update you on the EPISD 2016 Bond.  There have been several significant developments over the past month. These include issues in management, finances (your property taxes), project costs and project status.

1.     Management. There is another major shakeup in the senior management of the 2016 Bond both on the District and Project Manager side of the house.

   a.     The Executive Director for the Bond Projects, Carlos Gallinar has resigned.  I will note his predecessor resigned under a cloud.

b.    The EPISD Project Lead for Jacobs Engineering has resigned.

c.    The CBAC has been delayed to 12.6.2018 from 11.15.2018.  I will note the CBAC has been vocal in its concerns about management, finances, projected costs and projects status.

2.    Finances (Your Property Taxes).  The Financial Markets have turned against EPISD over the past two years.  They will affect Property Tax rates.

a.    The 10 Year Treasury Bond Interest Rate has risen steadily for the past year.  It is the benchmark that drives the Bond Market.

b.    The higher the Interest Rate goes, the more it costs EPISD to borrow money.

c.    The more it costs EPISD to borrow money, the higher your Property Taxes go.

d.    Well over half the 2016 Bond hasn’t been put on the Bond Market, yet.

3.    Project Costs.  Inflation, Hurricanes, Tariffs, and Labor Costs have driven up Project Costs over the past two years.

a.    It looks like Project Costs were underestimated in 2015/2016.

b.    Demand for materials, like steel, aluminum and cement, have increased nationally and locally.

c.    Steel has gone up 16% since the Bond vote in November 2016, as an example. Impact of Trump Tariffs have not hit yet.

d.    Downscaling projects has already begun.  What happened to Andress will happen elsewhere.

4.    Project Status.  According to EPISD, two years after the Bond Election, this is the status of major Projects.

a.    In Design– 7

b.    In Procurement – 9

c.    Under Construction – 2

i.     Crockett ES – Work has begun.

ii.     El Paso HS – Nice ceremony, actual work “Someday soon.”

d.    Completed– 0

Categories: Local Blogs

Robbing our schools and hospital

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 5:00am

The land (for the water park deal)  that the city is trading so that it can give it away for $1,000 per year with a $10,000 buy out was formerly owned privately and was taxed around 54 thousand dollars a year by the city,  $29 thousand a year by the county,  $98 thousand a year by the Canutillo independent school district, $9,000 a year by our community college and $16,307 yearly by our county hospital.  The total comes to $188 thousand each year.

Now that the city owns the land those taxes go away.

Further

If the land is actually worth the $18.6 million that we are told the owner wants the tax situation would be different.  The annual taxes would be $597,686.00.

Because the city has assumed ownership of the land, and thus the land cannot be assessed property taxes, the other entities are going to lose money also.

Using the claimed $18.6 million figure the Canutillo district will lose $284,580 per year for the ten years that the city will own the land.

The city tells us that homeowners pay a disproportionate part of the property tax (compared to businesses and industries) and then go right ahead and throw away a piece of property that would pay almost $600,000 a year.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

County gives away our money

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 5:00am

The water park deal gets more expensive to the taxpayers every time we study it.

In addition to the deals that the city has made we now see that the county has chipped in also.

The deal with the county (read the whole thing here if you wish) has some differences from what we have been told previously by the city.

While the city has been telling us that the development company will be spending more than $150 million on the project, the deal with the county requires the developer’s minimum investment “to include cash and in-kind contributions in an amount no less than” $100 million.

And while we have been told that the land is worth $18.6 million we find that it is on the tax rolls at the appraisal district at $4,748,573.

Anyway

Moving along as though those numbers don’t matter, the county has committed to give the developers up to:

  • $3,048,544.54 in real property tax rebates
  • $   208,812.20 in personal property tax rebates
  • $1,037,737.42 in hotel occupancy tax rebates

The total is $4,295,094.10 if I ran my calculator correctly.

Remember that we cannot use the water park unless we rent rooms at the hotel.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Deliberately misleading

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 5:00am

This map was part of the water park presentation given to city council the other day.

What the map does not show is that the company is building a similar resort in Scottsdale Arizona (Phoenix) that is scheduled to open in 2019.

Our circle will be considerably smaller.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Veterans day 2018

Sun, 11/11/2018 - 5:00am

Today is Veterans day, a day where we honor those who have served in the United States armed forces.

By the way the official spelling does not include an apostrophe.  The day does not belong to the veterans but instead is about them.

Memorial day is a holiday in May where we honor those who died while serving in the United States armed forces.

Armed forces day also occurs in May.  It is a day where we honor those currently serving in our armed forces.

I thank all of our veterans.

Freedom is not free.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Tax bills

Sat, 11/10/2018 - 5:00am

This came in from Max Grossman:

Dear Friends,

Like thousands of other El Pasoans, I finally received word of my new property tax assessment. The breakdown for 2017 and 2018 looks like this:

Taxing entity             2017                2018                % change

—————————————————————————–

CITY OF EL PASO      0.803433         0.843332         +4.97%

EL PASO COUNTY    0.452694         0.447819          -1.09%

EL PASO I.S.D.          1.310000         1.310000           0

EPCC                          0.141638         0.140273          -0.97%

UNIV MED CTR        0.251943         0.251943           0

——————————————————————————

TOTAL TAX RATE    2.959708%      2.993367%      +1.14%

Thus, the City of El Paso was the only taxing entity to raise our taxes, and they did so by almost 5%. Moreover, in the last six years the City of El Paso has raised our taxes from $0.66 per $100 valuation to $0.8433, an increase of 27%! Yes, we have actually joined the “3% Club” with Detroit!

For 2018, the value of my home was assessed 16.15% higher, but then my attorney sued to lower that increase to only 7.69%, which is still huge. Between that and my fleecing at the hands of the City, my property taxes are $684.46 higher for the coming year. That is money that I will not spend in the local economy, hurting local businesses and pressuring wages.

Our Mayor, who had promised to hold the line on taxes, and our City Council are 100% responsible for the tax hike, which is a direct result of their reckless borrowing and spending, their inability to contain our debt, their failure to respect established budgets, and their insistence upon increasing the cost of the already-bloated QOL bond projects, especially their “Arena,” by issuing new debt that was never approved by the voters.

*************************************

We invite our readers to tell us what happened to their tax bills this year.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Water park not feasible without incentives

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 5:00am

This slide explains the water park viability as well as anything we have seen:

The red coloring is part of a page in an economic impact analysis that the city has posted on their website.  You can read it here.

Simply put the analysis concluded that the hotel would only generate an internal rate of return of 4.2% unless someone kicked in some free money (government incentives).

The authors stated that investors would need an internal rate of return of between 14 and 16%.

They stated “As a result, in the absence of additional financial incentives, the Proposed Hotel is likely not feasible.”

Aren’t we nice?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Proving where you live

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 5:00am

City council is planning to pass an ordinance requiring entrance fees to use the new eastside sports complex.

The ordinance exempts residents of both PID (property improvement district) 2 and TIRZ (tax increment refinance zone) 9 because of the money that those properties contributed to the building of the complex.

My question is how will the city know which people to exempt?  How will people prove that they live within those two areas?  How much will it cost to have people administer the exemption?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Disagreeing politely

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 5:00am

I write this note before the polling places close.

I hope that regardless of the outcome we can return to civility in our discourse.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Vote now

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 5:00am

If you did not participate in early voting please go vote right now.

We deserve better

but we won’t get it unless we take charge

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Sampling the goods

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 5:00am

As part of the agreement with Great Wolf the city actually requires them to do certain things, like this:

Evidently the city will get 100 complimentary room nights each year.

It will be interesting to see who gets to use them.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Trading land you don’t own

Sun, 11/04/2018 - 5:00am

There has been a lot of activity talking about the water park the last few days.

Part of the package involves the city trading property with a local land owner.

The city then plans to lease their newly acquired land to the resort company.

The rest of the story is that the city does not own the land it plans to trade.  Our water utility does.  The city is planning to buy the land from the water utility and pay for it over a 30 year period.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Hotel occupancy tax issue

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 5:00am

Good government oxymoron wrote this the other day:

A percentage of the HOT tax was approved soley for paying for the stadium.

How is the city legally allowed to waive it or rebate it back to a hotel???

*******************************************************

That got us to wondering so we found the ballot language that the voters were asked to approve.

VENUE PROJECT AND HOTEL OCCUPANCY TAX PROPOSITION

“AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF EL PASO, TEXAS, TO DESIGNATE THE MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STADIUM PROJECT AS A SPORTS AND COMMUNITY VENUE PROJECT WITHIN THE CITY IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAW AND TO IMPOSE A TAX ON THE OCCUPANCY OF A ROOM IN A HOTEL LOCATED WITHIN THE CITY, AT THE MAXIMUM RATE OF TWO PERCENT (2%) OF THE PRICE PAID FOR SUCH ROOM, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING SUCH VENUE PROJECT.”

Good government oxymoron is right.

According to the Texas comptroller of public accounts:

The city of El Paso collects the municipal hotel occupancy tax at 7 percent to support an auditorium and convention center, and in 2012 introduced an additional 2 percent levy via a venue district hotel tax for a multipurpose sports stadium. Combined city HOT taxes totaled $13.1 million in fiscal 2015.

The documents with the water park specify the hotel occupancy tax rebate at 7 percent.  It looks like the city is respecting its obligation on the 2 percent but the comptroller’s explanation seems to mean that the other 7 percent is also allocated and the city cannot re-purpose it.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Impossible occupancy rate

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 5:00am

John Hogan made this comment that we believe deserves it’s own post:

One article I read said that the Great Wolf Lodge could bring 500,000 people to El Paso per year. That’s a really rosey outlook because with 350 rooms, that would require every room to have 4 people in it 365 days a year.

**************************************

It is good to see citizens taking a critical look at the baloney that these people are spewing.

Unfortunately no one on city council brought this up.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Young voters

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 5:09am

It should not be a surprise that EPISD has been working to get their students who are old enough to vote registered as voters.

https://www.episd.org/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=4&ModuleInstanceID=101&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=24569&PageID=1

The penny swap election will affect the district.

Maybe one of our readers can tell us what their student was told by the school about the pro’s and con’s of the issue.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

 

Categories: Local Blogs

No locals allowed

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 5:30am

Don’t plan to go to the new water park.

If you look up the Great Wolf Resorts on the web you will see that the water park is “Exclusive to resort guests”.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut