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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: 31 min 33 sec ago

Good government

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 5:00am

A loyal reader sent this in:

“…a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government…”

            –Thomas Jefferson, 1801

Categories: Local Blogs

EPISD–some real numbers

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 5:00am

Following up on our post the other day, we wrote in False Promise that EPISD is going to ask us to authorize taking 10 cents per hundred out of their interest and sinking fund property tax rate and adding it to their maintenance and operations rate (currently at $1.07 per hundred).

Until the issue is voted upon the district is required to publish a budget for next year.  This slide came from their web site:

It shows that they currently plan to spend $47,070,011 on debt service.

That’s if we don’t allow them to change the current 24 cent interest and sinking fund tax rate to 14 cents.

Then they won’t have enough money to service our debts.

In fact this April 2017 presentation to the citizen’s bond advisory committee projects that they will need a tax rate of 31 cents for 2018-2019.

They are simply robbing Peter to rob Paul.

They want us to approve the tax rate swap knowing that they will have to raise the interest and sinking fund rate next year.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Coincidence?

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 5:00am

A loyal reader pointed out this remarkable situation:

The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand is said by many to have started world war one.

The war ended by armistice on November 11, 1918 or 11 11 18.

Below is a picture of the car he was riding in when assassinated:

The plate reads A111 118.

Some interpret that as Armistace 11 11 18.

Brutus

 

Categories: Local Blogs

False promise

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 5:00am

The EPISD board of trustees will ask us at the next election to authorize lowering their interest and sinking fund tax rate by ten cents and increase their maintenance and operation tax rate by an equal amount.

They want us to believe that this move will not cost us anything.

They also point out that doing what they ask will bring in an additional $7.5 million from the state.  They don’t tell us if the extra money will come to us every year or if the $7.5 million is a one-time deal.

No cost

The board tells us that voting for this will not cost us any money.

That is simply not true.  The school district has debt that must be paid off using the interest and sinking fund.

The district has not told us that the $7.5 million will be applied to reducing debt obligations.  In fact they have told us that the money will be used to pay a one time stipend to the teachers and to increase the district’s fund balance.

Taking ten cents out of the interest and sinking fund rate will slow down their debt payments–a process that will cost us interest money.

Also they are not reminding us that they are in the process of issuing over $660 million in bonds that will need to be paid from the interest and sinking fund.

How can they do that when they are lowing the debt rate by 10 cents?

How can they do that?

It’s simple, they can’t.

Watch out next year and see how they raise the debt rate.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Labor day

Mon, 09/03/2018 - 5:00am

Happy Labor Day!

Summer is over.

We thank our readers for their continued support.

The November elections will be important.  Please do your part to inform others.

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Employee savings plan

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 5:00am

One of the problems with the city allowing employees to accumulate unused vacation and sick days until they retire is that the city pays them out at the employee’s current pay rate, not the rate the employee was paid when they got the days.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Another problem for EPISD?

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 5:45am

If it turns out the the birth rate decline lasts for a while I wonder what EPISD will do to handle the enormous decrease in student population.

A 20% decline for an entire quarter represents 5% fewer students five years from now.

Obviously if the decline lasts an entire year the district will have 20% fewer students entering kindergarten and the effect will be felt for twelve years.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Deep in debt

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 5:00am

The city’s 2017 comprehensive annual financial report is now available on the web.

One of the sad things it shows is that the city raised $251,591,361 from property taxes last year.

They spent $95,734,979 on debt service.

That means that 38% of our property taxes are going to pay for things that we owe money for.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Maximizing effectiveness

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 5:00am

From an EPISD report:

In addition to the 2016 bond funds described above, EPISD has transferred available 2007 Bond Funds for Andress High School ($10.2M) and Irvin High School ($25.6M) into Jacobs’ management scope of work in order to maximize the effectiveness of those dollars in a cohesive plan for each of those campuses.

Most of us realize that we are in the year 2018.  The bond money being transferred was approved by the voters in 2007.

Eleven years later they are thinking of doing something with it.

Many of us think that maximizing effectiveness of the 2007 money would have meant using it sooner or not asking for it in the first place.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Unwise promises

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 5:18am

Voters in Houston, Texas overwhelmingly approved the issuance of up to $2.5 billion in bonds for flood control.

From the flood control district website:

The explanation given is that the bonds will be sold over a 10 to 15 year period.

The explanation does not even answer the question asked.  Instead the response says “The process to sell the first allotment of bonds could take about XXXX”.

The voters have given the flood control district a blank check. No one knows what will happen in the next year much less 10 to 15 years out.

They should have insisted that if bonds were needed they would be approved by the voters in smaller chunks, say five years at a time.

Consider our case here in El Paso where in 2012 voters approved the issuance of $473 million in bonds for quality of life projects.  Six years later the majority of the money has not been spent.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Among the worst

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 5:15am

The J. P. Morgan financial firm recently published a chart that shows the financial liabilities of the state and local governments with the worst rations of debt service requirements to revenue.

They put El Paso on the chart at about 42%.

From their report:

While there’s no hard and fast rule, municipalities with IPOD ratios over 30% may eventually face very difficult choices regarding taxation, non-pension spending, infrastructure investment, contributions to unfunded plans and bond repayment.

Tick-tock

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Fewer births

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 5:00am

According to our county hospital’s June 2018 financial report,  births in the April to June quarter are down by 20% from the same quarter in 2016.

Can any of our readers help explain this to us?

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

Unpaid bills

Sun, 08/26/2018 - 5:00am

According to the city’s own numbers at the end of August 2017 our net pension liability was $540,851,229.

Our water utility had another $43,921,002 that it will owe their pension fund.

Add to that another $59,380,465 that the city categorizes as “unpaid absences” or sick and vacation pay that has been earned but not paid out to the employees.

That comes to over half of one year’s budget that we will have to come up with eventually.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs


by Dr. Radut