Somehow I missed the point of City Manager Tommy Gonzalez’ press release about the new budget.
When Tommy Gonzalez was talking about the $20 million that he saved local taxpayers, he was referring to the income the City passed over by reducing the tax rate by 4.49 cents per hundred dollars of valuation. The reduction directed by City Council.
See, he thought that the full pop tax rate the City first proposed was already his money. He thought that he was cutting us some slack by reducing the tax rate. Like he was doing us a favor.
But if the City could afford that cut in the tax rate, why they didn’t come out with the final rate in the first place? If they could live with $20 million less, why didn’t they suggest that in the original proposal?
You can understand his reasoning by looking at the rest of his news release. According to ElPasoTimes.com, the City’s Strategic Economic Recovery plan includes “$196 million in savings on Texas Gas costs”, and “$28.3 million in savings on El Paso Electric rate case settlement, which comes to about $117 in savings for the average resident”.
Reading that you might think that your gas and electric bills are coming down.
Uh uh. Those numbers represent what you might have paid if the City had acquiesced to the utilities’ first proposal. And the utilities always ask for a lot, knowing that they’ll have to settle for less. It’s negotiation.
That’s not a real savings the City Manager is claiming. He’s grasping for any spin that denies that we’re hemorrhaging. The City’s “Strategic Economic Recovery Plan”? Really?
Like I’ve said, the City has lots of money. The problem for you is that their money is in your bank account.
The budget went up 9% this year, even with the reduction of the tax rate. That’s not real savings, anymore than if you buy a fishing boat on sale for 20% off. If you pay $800 for a $1000 fishing boat, you didn’t save $200. You spent $800.
The City’s budget is up 9% this year. At that rate, the City’s budget will double in 8 years.
That’s unsustainable. El Paso’s taxpayers can’t afford it.
Still, somebody has to pay that money back.
“Honey, look how much money I saved.”
City Government has never shown any inclination to save money. You save money by not spending it. Not by taking a little haircut on a budget that’s grown by ten percent.