Cindy Ramirez of El Paso Matters published a substantive report on the ongoing budget talks in City Council.
To summarize, Interim City Manager Cary Westin and CFO Robert Cortinas proposed a total budget of $1.3 billion for FY 2024, an increase of $133.5 million over FY 2023 (+11.4%).
$47 million of the $133.5 million increase would be to the General Fund, which is drawn mostly from our property and sale tax—and about half of that would fund salary increases for Police Department and Fire Department employees.
The double-digit increase is in spite of the fact that our City population has declined by nearly 1% since 2017.
And let’s not forget that our City has yet to issue $600 million in new debt that was approved by the voters in three different bond elections, putting upward pressure on our property tax.
The only good news here is that four City reps and the Mayor are committed to not raising our City property tax to fund the budget increase, but their ability to keep their promise will depend upon the certified tax roll that will be released by the CAD on July 25.
HERNANDEZ WANTS TO ISSUE MORE DEBT
Ramirez cited statements from Reps. Kennedy, Salcido and Fierro as well as Mayor Leeser opposing any increase in our property tax.
But then there is Rep. Cassandra Hernandez, who claimed to support a new-no-revenue tax rate (but qualified her statement so that she can wriggle out of it later).
We are talking about a career politician who voted to raise our property tax six times in a row and to issue more than a half-billion dollars in certificates of obligation without voter approval.
She voted for every single boondoggle and corporate handout that came across her desk, including TIRZ 13, the Great Wolf Lodge debacle, and the odious Arena.
In 2018 she stated publicly “It would be in our best interests, including every taxing entity, to ensure that all of the homes are being appraised at a higher level so that we can see more valuations and more tax revenue.”
And now she is on the hot seat for purchasing enough gasoline to drive around the circumference of our planet twice.
If that were not enough, now we learn she wants to explore issuing a new quality of life bond, telling Ramirez, “We have to have the vision to look at the development for the next 20 years and these 2012 quality of life programs have already come to an end.”
For her, our astronomical debt burden is of no concern.
Will there be any end to her wasteful spending of our hard-earned income?
Can you believe she wants to run for mayor?
I would rather vote for a can of noodle soup.
Have a nice afternoon.