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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: 38 min 10 sec ago

Happy New Year

Wed, 01/01/2020 - 7:34am

Happy New Year!

What will the new year bring?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

A dangerous day

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 6:00am

Please be careful today and tonight.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Government pensions

Mon, 12/30/2019 - 6:00am

JerryK wrote this in a comment a couple of weeks ago:

Stop payments into City retirement funds (that are underfunded anyway) and convert employees’ equity into annuities. Subsequently make annual contributions into employees’ IRA accounts so they are on a level playing field with the private sector that has largely abandoned pensions. Contribute what we can afford, like the private sector.

I agree.

If any of us have to participate in the social security system then I believe that all of us should have to.

The pay that our government employees receive should compensate them fairly while they are working.  Pension plans should be eliminated.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

A changing industry

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 5:00am

As many of us know Verizon is having quality problems in large areas of El Paso.

The word on the street is that a cellular operation in Mexico is interfering with Verizon’s local signals.

Verizon recently sent out this message:

Wi-Fi calling may improve your voice calling experience.  Please ensure that Wi-Fi Calling is enabled and that you have Wi-Fi activated on your device.

The future

As Wi-Fi becomes more prevalent will we see reduced reliance on cellular carriers?  Will we be able to buy less capacity from our cellular carrier and thus save money?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

Sat, 12/28/2019 - 5:00am

It’s Saturday.

What’s on your mind?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

City tax tricks

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 5:00am

The city of El Paso charges a franchise fee to two of it’s own departments.

Both El Paso Water and the Environmental Services department (garbage) are assessed a fee.

The water and garbage customers see the fee getting passed on to them in the form of a bill.

The city powers maintain that the franchise fees are imposed to compensate the city for the use of city streets.

These are streets that we have paid for and are also paying to maintain.

The fees are not franchise fees, they are taxes.

The city has a few other departments that generate revenue.

Will we see them getting charged franchise fees?

Sun Metro buses travel more on city streets than any other entity.

El Paso Fire Department ambulances travel on city streets and generate revenue for the city.  How are they different than the water and trash departments?

All of these charges are wrong, they are simply taxes that the city would not normally be allowed to charge because of caps on their rate of tax increase.

The charges should be challenged in court.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

More vacation?

Thu, 12/26/2019 - 7:13am

The came in from our loyal reader EPKamikazi:

On the news tonight they announced city hall and administrative offices will be closed from 23 December through 2 January. Does that mean those personnel will be on paid status? ****************** We deserve better Brutus
Categories: Local Blogs

Merry Christmas

Wed, 12/25/2019 - 5:00am

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for your continued interest.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Be safe

Tue, 12/24/2019 - 5:00am

We hope by now that you have finished whatever shopping you have decided to do.

Traffic will be congested and accidents will happen.

Go home and enjoy the holiday.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Sinkhole City

Mon, 12/23/2019 - 6:24am

This came in from Max Grossman:

Friends, On December 10, Moody’s Investment Service announced that in the event of a recession of similar severity to the 2008-09 downtown, El Paso will be one of four cities (including Detroit) in which “adjusted net pension liabilities will rise by more than 100% of revenue.” I guess we had better pray that the economy holds up and that the stock market does not suffer a major reversal, otherwise we’re toast! Earlier this year, State Data Lab, a subsidiary of Truth in Accounting, whose mission is “to educate and empower citizens with understandable, reliable, and transparent government financial information,” declared that “El Paso is a Sinkhole City without enough assets to cover its debt.” And that was based upon financial data from 2017! I have stated it many times and will state it again. The City Manager, Mayor, and City Council Representatives have placed us on a financial path that could lead to disaster. Even as our homestead tax burden is second only to Detroit, they still insist that our government should be in the entertainment business, providing us with stadiums and waterparks. Lord help us. Max ********************************************** We deserve better Brutus
Categories: Local Blogs

Truth in advertising

Sun, 12/22/2019 - 7:55am

City staff recently made a presentation to city council on their new Strategic Regional Marketing Plan.

I think that their logo is kind of clever.

They start with the fact that three cities dominate the region:

Then they join them into one combined presentation:

In the spirit of truthfulness maybe the white square in the middle should be black to represent the economic black hole that we live in.

Their subtext could include:

  • Spend a night in El Paso, we have the highest hotel motel tax rate in the state of Texas.
  • Buy a home in El Paso, we have the second highest homestead property tax rate of the 50 largest cities in the United States
  • Come to Juarez, most people don’t get killed

Las Cruces is looking pretty good.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

Sat, 12/21/2019 - 5:00am

What’s on your mind?

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Better care, less cost

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 5:00am

“Constructive” suggested the other day that the blog discuss areas where the city could cut services and expenses.

The fire department sends pumper trucks and sometimes ladder trucks on ambulance calls.

The justification that I have heard is that sometimes the ambulance crews need physical assistance.

Lubbock uses “fox trucks”.  They are pickup trucks equipped with medical response equipment that can arrive before an ambulance has time to get to the scene.  Pickups are faster than ambulances.  Ambulances are faster than fire trucks.

In New York city they call them “fly-cars”.  Paramedics in sport utility vehicles get to the patient and start rendering care while waiting for an ambulance to transport the patient.

The patient gets faster treatment, the city spends less money handling the call.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Put the streets on a diet

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 5:00am

Further to “Constructive’s” idea that we list city services and expenses that could be cut, let’s address the width of our streets.

The city forces developers to build unnecessarily wide streets that eventually get re-striped and effectively get made narrower to traffic.

Among other deleterious effects:

  • Less land gets sold to homeowners and thus fewer homes are built on the land.  These lost homes would be paying property taxes to our local governments.
  • The wide streets eventually have to be repaved.  It costs more to repave a wide street than a narrow one.
  • Housing becomes less dense thus increasing the cost of public services because of the extra distances that have to be traveled.
  • The city has to paint more lines on the street in order to “calm” traffic

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Thanks sucker

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 7:38am

City council and city staff are making it quite clear what they believe our role as taxpayers is.

We are no more than mules who haul our tax money down to city hall and give it to them to spend as they wish.

After the $416 million public safety bond was approved city staff told city council that they did not want a citizen advisory board to participate in the bond spending.

The most common objection to creating the board seemed to be that the board would delay construction.

They probably think that they are smarter than all of the citizens of the city and that no lowly citizen could give them any advice that might make the projects better.

Pay attention to the fact that our mayor voted to break the tie and deny the creation of the board.

Shame on him.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–expensive borrowing

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 5:00am

EPISD wants to issue Maintenance Tax Notes in the amount of $17,500,000 to perform repairs on El Paso High School.

Don’t worry you won’t have to vote on this, the board will just issue the notes and send you the bill.

The chart below shows that the district does not intend to pay down any of the principal for another ten years:

Try that with your banker.

Failure to schedule principal payments for the first ten years will cost us over $6 million.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Let’s get out of debt

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 5:00am

In response to “Constructive’s” comment the other day, one of the things the city could do is to stop issuing debt, even if that means that we need to go without for a while.

The city’s 2020 budget will see us spending $52,850,000 in principal payments on debt and $61,066,101 for interest.

That comes to $113,916,101.

They plan to collect $325,181,058 in property taxes.

Yes 35% of what they collect from property taxes will have to be spent on things that we already have.

That’s before they sell the bonds for the multi-purpose performing arts center and the public safety bonds.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

What’s next?

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 5:00am

Way back on November 12, 2019 city staff presented this slide in support of their request for $100 million in certificates of obligation:

Notice that staff assured us that the “Issuance will comply with debt management policy’s maximum debt rate of 35 cents per $100 valuation”.

Well the slide is misleading in at least two ways.

The title implies that the $100 million is what city staff will ask for in 2020.

We now know that they are asking for another $46 million.

Will that keep us under the 35 cent maximum?

Well it looks like they have a problem.

They are forecasting their need to be up to 39.5 cents in 2026.

No problem, really

Their solution is to propose raising the rate to 40 cents per hundred at the Tuesday, December 10, 2019 city council meeting.

Is this incompetence or is it outright lying?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

Sat, 12/14/2019 - 5:00am

What’s on your mind?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Call for ideas

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 5:00am

A reader named “Constructive” made this comment the other day:

Here’s an idea for a future post. Invite commenters to list the services and expenses local government should cut.

That could be a good idea.

Let’s think about it over the weekend and then respond.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut