Big Changes at City Hall

Remember when the rationale for all those pricey public amenities was “to shift the property tax burden from residential to commercial property owners”?

That’s been the excuse for at least ten years. That somehow, through magic or alchemy or divine intervention, a ballpark and swimming pools would lead to more businesses paying more property taxes.

You’ll recall that El Paso’s residential property owners currently account for seventy percent of the property tax received, and that in most of Texas that ratio is reversed, with commercial property owners paying the bulk of property taxes.

Yesterday, the Interim Director of Municipal Financial Operations Robert Cortinas gave a presentation on Major Revenues. Curiously, Commercial Property Tax Revenues weren’t mentioned.

Weird, isn’t it? Don’t you think that your Representative should have notice that glaring omission and asked about it? It’s almost like the fix was in.

After the presentation, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said that the city needed to attract visitors from “further away then 50 miles” to boost Sales Tax Revenues. Maybe Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t have a map. Albuquerque and Tucson are the next closest communities.

I suspect that Mr. Gonzalez and Mayor Dee Margo are trying to shoehorn a sales tax argument into justification for that arena, now that the commercial property tax argument has demonstrably failed. That arena won’t draw visitors from Albuquerque, which has an arena, and a bigger market for arena shows. It won’t draw visitors from Tucson, who can make the ninety minute drive to Phoenix for any shows that our arena might attract.

The main thrust of Mr. Cortinas’ presentation was that the City’s revenues have stagnated, while our expenses are going up.

Responsible city government might look for ways to curtail expenses in the face of falling revenues. Our elected officials would rather stick it to the taxpayers than cut back on, or delay, their vanity projects. Remember that when you cut your property tax checks later this month, if you haven’t written them already.

Remember, originally, those Quality of Life projects were slated for a ten or fifteen year roll out, but the previous City Council couldn’t wait that long to cash their checks enshrine their legacies, so they accelerated the project schedule. And now the car’s in a ditch, and our current crop of City Council can’t take their foot off the gas.

They’re divorced from reality. I wonder why.

One comment

  1. So, where’s the “Big Change,” then, Rich? Oh, I get it. IOW, different day, same old bullshit! These bastards are no better than the last bastards! The good news is that they cannot effectively raise sales taxes by State law. The bad news is, they are no more interested in providing homeowners with any tax relief than were their predecessors.

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