How Do We Evaluate Our Economic Development Policy?

Short answer: We don’t.

I mean, except by the bank accounts of our community’s wealthiest citizens.

They’re not going to spend any more money in El Paso. They’re not going to hire a sous chef to help out their personal cook, or put another dozen mowers on their yard care crew. They’re maxed out.

It would be nice if they were going to start another business with their own money, instead of using public funds to prop up their own self-aggrandizing legends, but they’d rather play monopoly with house money. Who can blame them, if the house wants to keep shoveling cash their way? So they just keep showing up with their hands out.

A smaller city budget accompanied by the latest increase in taxes indicates that our tax base is shrinking. Relatively flat population growth is another indicator.

I believe in results based analysis. How do we evaluate results?

We could count hotel rooms. Or public works projects. Or miles of highway.

I’m kidding! None of those are viable economic indicators, unless they represent an increase in demand. But supply does not equal demand. You can build it, and they still might not come.

See, the city adopted this expansionist policy back in 2012, back when El Paso was fat. City Council said, “Hey, we had a good year. Let’s max out the credit cards so our grandkids don’t get any inheritance.” And they did. They made decisions that we’re still borrowing money to pay for, even though we have less money and more debt than we did when the decisions were made.

Eventually, some adult in the room needs to step back and see where our policies have brung us. And then have the courage to take a stand and make some changes.

But I’m not seeing it. Not in this political lifetime.

4 comments

  1. We arent paying for the police pension fix….but less disposable income will be spent if less income comes in….locally spent. So the cycle continues. The debt will be called one day.

  2. I have a small circle of friends and it keeps getting smaller every day. Wage earners, even the older ones, are fleeing El Paso. This is real. It’s not just the brain drain anymore.

    1. I hear you. And there are fewer and fewer things to do anymore. I’m happy to just sit home and tend the garden, but some of my readers depend on El Chuqueño to keep them up to speed on the cool activities, and there aren’t as many as there were before.

      City government is killing El Paso.

  3. The baseball stadium is a perfect example of an “economic driver” that turned out be be an economic “switcher”. No one flew to El Paso en masse to watch baseball games. Instead, people chose not to go somewhere else in El Paso to spend their money and went to se a baseball game instead. No new money, just the same old entertainment money going to a hyper-subsidized local wealthy team-owner instead of a legitimate local small business owner. The city council chose to subsidize Foster-Hunt’s hobby team and made taxpayers pay for it. Now, other businesses are losing money because of government intervention. Foster got a pretty-penny in tax abatements for building the Fountains as well, despite the fact that none of the other malls got any breaks. It seems that the more money you have in El Paso the less likely you are to have to pay any taxes. The city’s entire economic plan for attracting business is to tell them they won’t have to pay any taxes, the local citizens will pay all the taxes for everyone forever.

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