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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: 49 min 47 sec ago

Think about it

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 5:00am

In the district one city representative runoff you have a choice between an incumbent whose behavior we know a lot about and a challenger that very little is known about.

Which would you rather have?

You need to decide.

In another local race a candidate lost a spot in the runoff by 15 votes so you need to vote.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Sun Metro vs city streets

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 7:53am

If you wonder about the state of our city streets, take a look at this:

They spend almost as much on the bus service as they do on city streets.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

Strangling traffic

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 7:10am

A loyal reader sent in this picture of Robinson Avenue going north:

The city has taken what was a four lane road and narrowed it to two.

According to a March 7, 2018 city news release:

This project with an approximate budget of $2.7 million is part of the City of El Paso’s commitment
to improve El Paso’s regional comprehensive transportation system.

According to a June 29, 2016 city news release:

As part of the project, new hike and bike trails will also be constructed, and new landscaping, irrigation, illumination, ADA compliant
sidewalks and curbs will be added to area.

Both ways

Evidently the bike crowd gets to have the “bike trail” off to the right as well as the right to ride on the street where there are double yellow lines prohibiting passing.

If you get stuck behind a bicyclist going up the road you cannot pass him.

“commitment to improve”, my foot.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Streetcars working

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 5:00am

We are getting good reports from people about the streetcars!

In fact we have heard that they are quiet, smooth riding and fully capable of climbing up Stanton.

Whether or not you are in favor of the project they seem to be operating well.

This is better


Categories: Local Blogs

Alameda Brio late

Sun, 11/25/2018 - 5:00am

The Alameda Brio line is behind schedule.

Sun Metro’s web page makes this claim:

The second corridor is Alameda. Construction on Alameda is tentatively scheduled to begin in fall 2016 with completion in early 2018.

In this year’s budget the city makes this claim:

Commence Alameda RTS service in November 2018 and Dyer RTS in January 2019

The budget document made that prediction in September, two months ago.

Today is November 25, 2018 and neither Alameda nor Dyer are being talked about.

Is anyone paying attention?

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Just plain dumb

Sat, 11/24/2018 - 5:00am

Is the water park economically feasible?

Consider this

After receiving $100 million in publicly funded incentives the water park developers now have 18 months to decide whether to go through with the project.

We have given away the store, our funds and future are now tied up while the developers try to figure out if we have given them enough money.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Sun metro 2018

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 5:12am

The Sun Metro ridership numbers for the 2018 fiscal year are out.

They show a 5% decrease in riders from 2017.

The year before (2017 vs 2016) showed a 9.3% decrease.

Before that the period from 2016 to 2015 showed another 9.2% decrease.

They reported that the cost per trip went up from $3.41 to $3.77, a ten percent increase.  If you take the total amount of money that they were budgeted to spend for 2018 and divide it by the number of rides they reported, the cost per ride was actually $5.45.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

Thanksgiving wishes

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 5:00am

We hope that you have the opportunity to enjoy your family today.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–will they get caught?

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 6:41am

EPISD has a real problem.

In EPISD–some real numbers we pointed out that taking ten cents out of the interest and sinking fund rate and giving it to the operations and maintenance fund would leave the district without enough money to make their bond payments.

The district failed to mention that to the voters.  The voters approved the move.

The district will have to add at least seventeen cents to our interest and sinking fund rate next year.  That will not trigger a rollback election because state law allows them to raise the rate up to fifty cents per hundred without being subject to a taxpayer rollback effort.

Without more money in the interest and sinking fund account the district will not be able to honor its obligation to the bond holders.  That could cause a bond default.

The district’s solution is shown in this document:

The document says “To make bond payments, there will be a transfer for the same amount from the GF (general fund, or operations and maintenance fund) to the DSF (debt service fund, or interest and sinking fund)”.

Texas attorney general

In July of 2017 the Texas attorney general wrote:

“Districts do not have authority to increase the maintenance and operations tax rate to create a surplus to pay debt service with maintenance and operations tax revenue”.

There you have it.

Their actions appear to be illegal.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD bond personnel changes at the top

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 5:00am

We are seeing troubling signs over at EPISD related to the bond issue.

The executive director for bond projects has resigned.

The project leader for Jacobs Engineering (the firm handling much of the bond money) has resigned.

The citizens bond advisory committee is pushing for more and different bond management.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

How do we know we got the best deal?

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 5:00am

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


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. 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


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


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




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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


Categories: Local Blogs

by Dr. Radut