Naysayers, Malcontents, and Liars

Former City Council Representative and Mayoral Candidate and current member of the board of the Downtown Management District Steve Ortega, had this to say in a recent opinion piece in the El Paso Times:

In 2005, Downtown’s assessed taxable valuation was $191 million; today, it is $329 million and rising. The greater the burden shouldered by the commercial tax base means less of a burden for the residential taxpayer.

Now let’s see. According to information El Chuqueño recently obtained from the El Paso Central Appraisal District via a Public Information Act request, in 2005, the total residential tax burden as a percentage of the total market value (after exemptions) was 59.75%, and in 2017, the total residential tax burden was 62.29%.

So of course Mr. Ortega was right when he said that the greater the burden shouldered by the commercial tax base means less of a burden for the residential taxpayer, all other things being equal. That’s a truism. That just doesn’t happen to be the reality of what’s happened. Commercial and Industrial taxpayers are carrying about one percent more in 2017 than they were in 2005, but the residential tax burden has increased about two and a half percentage points. That because other categories have lost taxable value.

But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a specious argument. Especially when we have the chance to call those who disagree with us “naysayers and malcontents”.

He left out “Crazies”. You think he’d check his facts before he starts calling people names.


  1. These people are never going to change their tune. They called us crazy when we tried to call them out on their stupid tear-down-a-perfectly-good-city-hall-and-build-an-unnecessary-ballpark action, and they went ahead and did it anyway. They – and all the other pushers of downtown at the expense of all the rest of the City (except the West Side) – have failed bigly, but they persist in pushing while we, the residential taxpayers carry on with the added burdens.

    1. Actually the “perfectly-good-city-hall” had some serious design flaws that made if prohibitively expensive to retrofit to meet modern ADA standards as well as some operational needs. Add to that decades of deferred maintenance and you end up with a depressingly large price tag to renovate the building. That had been the reality of the City Hall building for some time before the ballpark issue even came up and that’s one of the big reasons they moved in the direction that they did. Maybe you don’t agree with building a ballpark instead of a new City Hall, but acting like the old City Hall was perfectly-good is misinformed.

  2. You do realize that one big reason why residential customers end up paying an unusually high percentage of property taxes is that, as a community, El Paso has a pretty poor track record of people actually protesting valuations on their property, right? I’ve had the chance to chat with folks on appraisal review boards and they are often shocked at how few people actually fight the appraised valuations of their houses and how poorly prepared many of the ones who do are when they get their chance in front of a board. Compare that to businesses which often hire legal and other forms of assistance in order to put together a solid argument against the increased valuations and you end up with this scenario. I would argue that your point is the really specious one since it ignores one major component in determining what percentage of property taxes are residential vs commercial and it’s something that’s completely out of the hands of any local politician. Hell, look at what Western Refining did a few years ago and what a major impact that had on the City. They were perfectly within their rights to fight the valuation of their property, but we could argue that they knew the appraised value was actually pretty fair (especially in light of Foster having cashed out and sold it so we actually have one real measure of what the company was worth).

    Sorry, but IMO you are comparing apples to oranges and disparaging one good thing that is happening by pointing out how it hasn’t fixed a somewhat unrelated issue that it has fairly little impact on. The DMD can’t do anything about whether or not people challenge their property valuations with CAD and that plays a huge roll in what percentage of our taxes come from residential vs commercial properties.

    1. That doesn’t have anything to do with Mr. Ortega’s argument that downtown development offsets the residential property tax burden. Add that to the fact that, because of the TIRZ, all downtown property taxes only work to improve downtown. If businesses move downtown from another part of the city, that only helps the downtown property owners, not the average El Pasoan. Those downtown property taxes don’t fix potholes or fund splash parks in the rest of the city. But I guess the rest of El Paso can eat cake.

      Nice try. Keep fishing.

  3. “Enemies of progress” was what he called the opponents of the baseball stadium in 2013…

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