The City of El Paso will take on close to billion dollars in new debt over the next fifteen years, much of it for Quality of Life capital improvements. We’ll be getting Olympic size swimming pools, and sports fields, and a downtown arena, if anyone wants to buy us a soccer team. The zoo will endure a fifty million dollar expansion. And the History Museum will get a digital wall, whatever that is, a bargain at only three million dollars.
The bond projects are supposed to kick start an economic renaissance in El Paso by enticing businesses to move here. The way I see it, only a couple of things could go wrong with this plan.
The first is that it could work, and El Paso could end up with Austin’s traffic and Albuquerque’s crime, and even more fashion conscious yuppies complaining that we’re not cool enough.
Or it could fail, and our tax revenues won’t rise enough to support the soft costs of the increased infrastructure. How many lion-tamers and zookeepers will the City have to hire to maintain a $50 million zoo expansion? How many lifeguards sitting poolside waiting for someone to drown? And all those City jobs come with pensions and benefits. What looks like eighteen bucks an hour is probably really closer to thirty. The City will have to raise our property taxes to make up for the shortfall. You’ll recall that the infamous Glass Beach study said that high property taxes were one of the reasons that people weren’t moving to El Paso in the first place.
I’m not going to keep whining about the bond issues. The voters have spoken. May God have mercy on us.