by Max Grossman

Our property tax consists of the combined levies of five local taxing entities. If you live within the El Paso Independent School District as I do, those entities are the City of El Paso, El Paso County, EPISD, University Medical Center, and El Paso Community College.

Over the last couple of decades, these five entities have accumulated huge debts by issuing too many bonds, tax anticipation notes, and other debt securities, and by committing to overly generous pensions and other benefits for their tens of thousands of employees. As of FY 2022, their liabilities are as follows:

City of El Paso
$2,257,059,694 (including $851,565,991 in principal and interest on 10 certificates of obligation issued since 2013)
*2023 Budget Book, p. 79

El Paso County
$248,335,199 (including $107,915,830 in principal and interest on 7 certificates of obligation and tax notes)
*El Paso County Q1 Market Update of May 2023, p. 5

$1,413,602,700 (including pension liabilities)
*2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, p. 92

$889,200,000 in total liabilities (including $340,400,00 in long-term debt)
*2022 Independent Auditor’s Report, p. 9

$325,729,483 in total liabilities (including $65,319,815 in bond interest)
*Annual Comprehensive Financial Report 2021-2022, pp. 42-43

Thus, as far as I can tell from their budget books and financial reports, the five local taxing entities of EPISD residents have total liabilities exceeding


And that is a very conservative estimate that does not include the most recently issued debt.

Since the area of the EPISD has a total population of 311,906 (as of 2021), that means that every man, woman and child is on the hook for approximately $16,460!

Of course, we have the option of simply leaving El Paso for Las Cruces or some other community with lower taxes, and then we would not owe the five taxing entities of El Paso County a single penny.

And that is exactly what more and more El Pasoans are doing.

In fact, the population of the City of El Paso has declined by 6,129 since 2017 to only 677,456 residents, a drop of nearly 1% (although the population of El Paso County has increased slightly over the same period).

If the leaders of our five taxing entities do not come together and collectively agree to lower our taxation and debt to manageable levels, so that we are on par with other major Texas cities, El Paso will continue to lose population and we will enter into a financial death spiral that will inevitably result in government bankruptcies.

One comment

  1. If you build it, they will come and “they” will generate the tax revenues to pay off the debt. Wasn’t that the logic, we were sold? We’re still waiting for “them” to come and pay it off 🙂 One problem is that “they” might build in a TIRZ district and the increase in property value therein will not accrue as taxes to the general welfare of the rest of the City. So the rest of us will have to generate the revenue to pay off the debt load.

    This is the game the City has been playing with us and it began with the hiring of a city manager and continues.

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