This email is just for you!
One year ago I submitted to you my research on the City’s outstanding debt from certificates of obligation, which are supposed to be for emergencies and do not require voter approval (see below). I have updated my research and attached it to this email. You can view all CO issuances and expenditures since June 2017, when Dee Margo became Mayor, and monitor who voted for them.
According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, certificates of obligation “were originally created to give local governments a tool for emergency spending” but in recent years some Texas Cities have started using them to pay for “projects that are either controversial or discretionary, such as public art projects, swimming pools, and parks.”
$642 MILLION IN DEBT FROM CERTIFICATES OF OBLIGATION AUTHORIZED BY CITY COUNCIL SINCE 2012
According to page 91 of the Adopted Budget Book for FY 2021, the City of El Paso owes $548,960,000 in principal on eight CO debt issuances dating from 2012 through 2020. That does not include the $93,000,000 that was approved on a 6-2 City Council vote on April 13, 2021, with Reps. Molinar and Rodriguez dissenting.
Thus, we will soon hold $642,000,000 in total CO debt on which we will pay more than $300,000,000 in interest! Amazingly, $293,000,000 of that has been authorized since January 2019. How insane is that?
EL PASO STILL HOLDS THE TEXAS RECORD FOR CO DEBT!
I have attached the recently released 2020 figures from the Texas Bond Review Board, showing that, as of 2020, El Paso held $541,100,000 in CO debt, with Denton coming in a distant second (see Table 5.2 attached). And that is before the $93,000,000 that our City Council reps just authorized!
We are issuing hundreds of millions in new debt without voter approval using a mechanism that was intended for emergencies, and much of these funds are earmarked for City projects that are grossly over budget, especially the Quality of Life Bond projects.
WHAT ABOUT PAYING FOR THE “ARENA”?
Only $180 million is earmarked for the City’s “Arena” project, which we all know will cost closer to $500,000,000. Just ask City Manager Gonzalez. He knows. Imagine issuing another $300M+ in CO debt to make up that shortfall. And no, Dee, naming rights will not even make a dent in that. We are set to become the only member of the CO billion-dollar club!
OUR CITY POLITICIANS
We know exactly which City Council representatives voted to issue this mountain of CO debt, and the taxpaying public will hold them accountable in the next election cycle. Make no mistake about it. El Pasoans are angry as hell about their property tax bills and we all know that a big chunk of that for servicing the debt from our COs.
Enjoy your evening.