Here’s Tommy Gonzalez’ contribution to that story from the El Paso Times headlined El Paso’s property tax rate is among the highest in the nation. Here’s why.
Even with the extra tax revenue generated by higher property appraisals, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez told council members that it’s not enough to bring the city’s operations back to where they were before the beginning of the pandemic.
“The reason we kept the rate like we did last year and we’re doing it again this year is to just help the community come back, not only the businesses but also the residents,” Gonzalez said.
You hear what he’s saying? Our tax burden is going to get worse. A lot worse.
City leaders show no indication of lowering El Paso’s residential property tax rate in the future. In multiple presentations to City Council, Cortinas has said the city will begin to see a growing deficit between its anticipated revenue and expenses. Cortinas projects the city’s revenue will be short by $37 million in 2023. By 2026, he forecasts the deficit will grow to $77.2 million.
The story goes on to posit that our expenses are all because of Public Safety.
The biggest drivers of that funding gap are public safety expenses, specifically the collective bargaining agreements the city signed with the local firefighters union in 2018 and the local police union in 2019. The city is halfway through a 10-year plan to boost the size of the police force by 300 officers. In the next fiscal year, the city plans to hire seven more 911 operators and increase the budget for the police department’s crisis intervention team, which responds to mental health-related calls, by $1.2 million.
Those are the biggest drivers on the horizon, but what about all the money that we’ve spent on those Quality of Life projects?
We dropped a half a billion dollars (at least) on the Quality of Life projects, and the ballpark, and those kittens eat more every year. But City Management is putting the finger on the cops and firemen.
Who signed off on those collective bargaining agreements? Who pushed that big $413,122,650 2019 Public Safety bond? They’re already saying that $413 million is not going to be enough.
Where was the media, and our Chief Financial Officer, back when we were taking on all the prior debt?
Does the City Manager wake up every morning and forget where he is, and how he got here?
Could he hide his own Easter eggs?
If we’re stuck with debt from the collective bargaining agreements, why don’t we/didn’t we cut our expenses where we can/could? Like the Quality of Life projects?
There are too many holes in the dyke, and I’m all out of thumbs.