Stuart Blaugrund Drills Downtown

Here’s a letter to the El Paso Times from the lawyer who challenged the Downtown Plan back in the day. Stuart Blaugrund is responding toSteve Ortega’s opinion piece that appeared in the Times last week.

When Steve Ortega and his fellow City Council members adopted the Downtown Plan and established a tax increment financing district in 2006 to spur redevelopment (the “TIF”), the city projected that property values within the Downtown TIF would increase by $521 million as of 2030 and tax receipts would increase by over $80 million during the same period. However, the city’s recent report to the Texas Comptroller reveals that Downtown’s assessed taxable valuation increased by barely over $100 million in the past 12 years, tax receipts in fiscal 2017 totaled less than $730,000, and the TIF has expended no funds on either affordable housing or alleviating the critical lack of available parking Downtown.

Had Ortega bothered to compare the city’s projections with the TIF’s actual performance before writing his op-ed, he quickly would have discovered the inaccuracies in his own figures and concluded that the TIF — just like the failed Downtown Plan — is substantially lagging behind financial expectations.

For some people, the facts are just inconvenient details and the truth is a foreign concept.

6 comments

  1. So just throwing this out there since math is hard for some folks, unless Mr Blaugrund is claiming that the 2006 plan projected a linear growth for property values and tax revenues then his analysis is missing a lot of information. I’m not a finance expert, but I haven’t seen to many growth curves that are actually linear and I seem to recall that the claim has always been that the value and tax base will increase faster as the area becomes more successful. Just off the top of my head I can think of 4 buildings that are either being renovated or are about to be renovated which would most likely contribute to the $521M value in the next 12 years. Furthermore quite a few of the various tax abatement agreements in place now will have concluded within the next 12 years.

    All things considered his analysis needs more meat to it before you can say anything other than “this guy has an axe to grind”. You often talk about the truth but in this case the guy you are quoting is not providing the whole truth and seems to be hiding behind numbers in a misleading way. Why tell us what the property values should be in 12 years? Why not tell us what the projections said they would likely be in 2018? I’m pretty sure someone who was being honest about the math could tell us that. Similarly why tell us that the tax revenues are $730,000 without telling us what they should be once the tax agreements expire? Even as a side-note I would expect something like that.

    I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that the property values and the tax revenues are following along on exactly whatever curve was projected back in 2006 and there isn’t a problem with the downtown plan in that regard. It’s not like the only reason to be against it is because it’s going to fail

    Hey maybe he’s 100% right, but considering what he chose to include and what he chose to omit I’m skeptical that this isn’t just a personal attack on folks that he’s still grumpy at after 12 years. His entire piece is really an “I told you so” without actual proof that they were wrong.

  2. Isn’t Stuart Balugrund the son of Mark Balugrand who owns REMCON which is involved almost exclusively in developments on the Westside, and with no interest$ in Downtown?

    He’s not exactly an unbia$ed observer regarding downtown.

    1. His family owned property in Segundo Barrio that housed a bus company. One of the buses missed a turn and hit an apartment building, tearing a hole in some lady’s bedroom. Stuart did not want there to be any threat to his family’s business operating a dangerous company in a crowded residential area. So he filed ethics charges against a City Rep, named Beto something or other, and those charges were essentially laughed out of court.

  3. Helll, these properties could be valued at a billion but if they dont produce the army of tax lawyers and accountants will be telling cad what the value is

  4. Ok. Take a deep breath. This plan has only been in effect for 12 years. Heck, we’ve been in Afghanistan for over 17 years and we’re still optimistic. Be patient.

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