There’s a lot of noise about the arena. Duranguito. Gringolandia. Contempt of court. Arrogant and dismissive. Mysterious phone surveys. Voter approved.
Let’s put it in its proper perspective. We don’t need another venue, and this new one is going to raise taxes.
You remember when the City sold us those Quality of Life bond projects. They weren’t going to cost us any more than we were already paying in property taxes. Here’s an article from the September 30, 2012 issue of the El Paso Inc., titled City CFO: How We’ll Pay Off Big Bond Debt.
As El Paso taxpayers look ahead to the Nov. 6 quality of life bond election, some are asking how the city can pay for all those projects and everything else without imposing huge tax increases.
The city’s chief financial officer, Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, confidently says it can.
. . .
Do a little quick math [adding existing debt, the Quality of Life bonds, and Certificates of Obligation] and that adds up to $1.6 billion in debt – an 81 percent increase. But the quick math would be wrong, Arrieta-Candelaria said.
The quality of life bonds will be sold not all at once, but over seven to 10 years, starting with $33 million in 2014 with the first payments the following year.
Meanwhile, the city’s older debt will be dropping rapidly.
Over that time, the city’s tax rate, now at 66 cents per $100 valuation, will rise by only 5 cents, she says, peaking for two years before starting to decline.
That nickel on the tax rate will cost the owner of a home valued at $150,000, after exemptions, about $75 a year.
But that was then, and this is now. According to Brutus over there at ElPasoSpeak.com, the City’s debt is now north of $2,670,400,000. And we’re staring down the barrel of annual tax increases for the foreseeable future.
Of course, it was the City’s plan to mislead us all along. That’s why they bundled the Multipurpose Performing Arts Center with libraries and parks. They hid it, because, you know, it’s for the kids.
You’re probably shocked to learn that the City lied to the voters.
If they’d been selling us a car, we might have recourse for their bad behavior through the civil courts. But since they were selling us bonds, they get to lie all day long and laugh all the way to the bank.
And of course all those people (most of them) that worked for the City then, and the elected officials, have all moved on, mostly to greener pastures. Except, of course, for Representative Noe, who’s still on City Council, and who apparently was born without the shame gene.
But don’t worry! The current crop of politicos are doing all they can to put distance between themselves and those festering lies the previous regime sold us to pass those bonds.
They’re still saying you voted for it. They’re still pushing for the arena. Even though your vote was based on the lies and obfuscations the City told you.
So they can talk about Gringolandia. They can say “voter approved.” But you don’t have to look too hard to see that in their zeal to gift us a downtown arena, they cut some ethical corners, and they’re still cutting them.