The 2020 US Census has revealed that the population of Texas increased 15.9% between 2010 and 2020, by a total of 3,999,944 people, while the population of the City of El Paso grew only 4.6%, from 649,121 to 678,815, by a total of only 29,694 people.
If the figures from the American Community Survey are accurate, the City of El Paso’s population peaked in 2017 at about 683,583, but then declined each year since. Thus our City has lost about 4,768 inhabitants in the last four years, the first decline since the Great Depression. And the trend began well before COVID began impacting our local mortality rate.
By comparison, the communities adjacent to El Paso have seen robust population growth.
But check out the statistics from Dona Ana County, New Mexico:
Las Cruces grew from 97,618 to 111,385, an increase of 14.1%
Sunland Park grew from 14,106 to 16,702, an increase of 18.4%.
Santa Teresa grew from 4,258 to 5,044, an increase 18.5%.
WHY IS EL PASO’S POPULATION GROWTH SO ANEMIC?
At the end of his report, Moore implies that the problem may be El Paso’s low wages, which are about one-third lower than the state and national rates.
I respectfully disagree.
The major factor in El Paso’s anemic population growth is our insanely high property tax rate, which is the second highest among the 50 largest cities in the Unites States.
Consider that a home assessed at $150,000 in West El Paso carries a tax burden of 3.12%, or $4,680.
Meanwhile, a $150,000 home in Las Cruces carries an effective burden of 1.05%, or $1,571, two-thirds less than in El Paso! The median household income in Las Cruces is about $5,500 less and the median home price there is about $21,600 more.
Do you think people are flocking to the New Mexico communities of Las Cruces, Sunland Park and Teresa because the wages are so much higher than in El Paso? Of course not!
It used to be common wisdom that New Mexico’s income tax, though modest, canceled out any property tax advantage that might have lured El Pasoans to move to that state.
But that was before the meteoric rise in our property tax rate in the last seven years, resulting in large part from the out-of-control deficit spending of our financially illiterate City Council, which votes to build waterparks, arenas and twirling eggbeater statues no matter the cost.
There are several families in my West Side neighborhood who have packed up and left El Paso for New Mexico, Arizona or someplace else and, yes, the property tax rate was a major consideration. I suspect the same is true for the rest of our city.
At least once a month I have to convince my retired mother, who moved to El Paso four years ago, not to move to Santa Teresa, but I am running out of arguments! She pays no income tax, so her desire to flee to New Mexico is powerful.
And there are developers in Sunland Park and Santa Teresa who, as a matter of strategy, are actively persuading El Paso homeowners to jump ship for Dona Ana County.
You see, our City leaders have placed us on a disaster course, and they had better reduce spending and lower our tax rate soon or more property owners will flee El Paso and take their money with them, eroding our economic base and sending us into a financial death spiral.