Budget Theater

The City is in the midst of budget talks. Here’s the almost latest from the El Paso Times:

Homeowners could see a 5 percent increase in the city’s portion of a property tax bill for the upcoming fiscal year.

The preliminary 3.99 cent tax-rate increase per $100 valuation will help fund a proposed $983 million budget that includes increased funding for public safety, streets and parks.

That translates to a city tax bill of about $1,054 on an average $130,000 home with a $5,000 tax exemption — an increase of about $50 over last year.

City officials presented the council with the preliminary budget for the 2019 fiscal year Monday, an $86 million increase over last year’s budget, documents show.

Last year the City low-balled revenues to justify a modest property tax rate increase. This year I forecast some hand-wringing followed by some back-slapping as City Council chops that proposed 5 percent increase down to 3 percent. Or maybe they’ll hold the budget to the same as last year’s and dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back.

Or maybe, with all the Certificates of Obligation they’ve been issuing and legal fees they’ve been absorbing, they’ll have to let the taxpayers eat the whole 5 percent.

After I called out last year’s proposed budget as fake, the City’s Chief Financial Officer resigned. Maybe it was just a coincidence, him leaving all of a sudden in the middle of the night, clearing out his desk by flashlight. (That’s artistic license there. He probably left in the long shadows of the winter twilight.)

Or maybe he was an honorable man.

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