You could write it off to the City’s excessive spending. And you’d be right. The City is drunk on spending money on Quality of Life amenities. Money on a ballpark we never voted for. Money on a trolley no one would pay to ride on. Money on salaries and perks and pensions for people who get paid to figure out how to spend more money.
But spending money is only half the equation. All those Quality of Life amenities are supposed to attract more businesses to help shoulder the tax burden. At least that’s the story the politicians tell the voters.
But all the businesses the City attracts are lured here with tax incentives.
Tax abatements. Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. Tax rebates for the sales tax those businesses spend on building supplies. Fee waivers. The City has figured out a way to refund every dime that those new businesses might pay to the City’s General Fund.
The City services that you and I pay for — police, the fire department, health inspections — those new businesses get for free. For years. For ten years, twenty years, thirty years.
And those new businesses are, often, competing for the same consumer dollars that our existing businesses are after. Can you believe that one of the goals of the City’s Economic Development Office is to attract Destination Retail?
Really? Destination retail? We’re giving tax incentives to encourage out-of-town businesses to compete with our own homegrown businesses?
City leaders, in collaboration with private development partners have been aggressive in attracting new companies to El Paso and the results are compelling: Top Golf, Cabelas, Alamo Drafthouse, Whole Foods, Sprouts and Dick’s Sporting Goods have all opened in El Paso providing the community with more options to work, shop, eat and play.
Whole Foods is currently owned by Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world. The City of El Paso is giving tax rebates to the richest man in the world.
Most, if not all, of those businesses were offered tax incentives to move to El Paso to compete with local businesses thriving, or at least surviving, in the local environment.
So when you get your tax bill this year, and look out from your front porch at the potholes in the street in front of your house, remember the failed policies of our city “leaders”.
Remember them when you vote in November.