On Tuesday, February 13 under agenda item 7, our City Council will vote on allocating $8,593,000 for public art installations as part of the 2024 Public Art Plan.

It was on October 28, 2014 that the City adopted the “2014-2024 Public Art Master Plan,” which is administered by the Managing Director of Cultural Affairs & Recreation. That would be Ben Fyffe, who is the 15th highest paid employee of the City of El Paso, earning $186,747 plus benefits.

Apparently, most of the art projects currently under consideration are already in progress, so it is unclear how much of the proposed funding is to be spent during the current fiscal year.

We invite you to examine the list of projects, which includes $1,250,000 for an “Artist Pool” at the Police Department Headquarters, $800,000 for an “Artist Pool” at the Police & Fire Training Academy, and $600,000 for “Water Wall Improvements” next to the Plaza Theatre.

The Resolution for Tuesday indicates that the 2024 Public Art Plan will be paid for with seven different certificates of obligation, issued between 2010 and 2019, and with funds from the 2012 Quality of Life Bond and the 2019 Public Safety Bond.

All of this requires issuing debt that directly impacts our property tax.

Section 2.40.070(C)(1) of the City Code (Ord. No. 17424, ยง 1), enacted September 21, 2010, earmarks 2% of the value of all expenditures on capital improvement projects, “whether funded by general obligation bonds, revenue bonds or certificates of obligation,” for public art.

If you were wondering how we got $7.5 million worth of twirling eggbeaters at the Airway exit on Interstate 10, the blueberry martini sculptures on Airway Blvd. ($750,000), and the “Yellow Door” on El Paso Street ($250,000), the answer is that we paid for them.

While we support the maintenance and operation of existing museums and libraries, we do not need government to provide us with entertainment, public artworks, or anything else that is a reckless expenditure of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

We are against publicly funded arenas, stadiums, water parks, trolleys, and gigantic twirling eggbeaters that glow in the dark!

We demand that our City and County focus on their core functions and that they stop spending our money on projects that are not within their purview.

As for public art, local residents, non-profits, and businesses can finance that without the interference of government.

It was recently announced that a group of philanthropists and nonprofits raised $5.5 million for an installation by artist Leo Villareal called “Star Ceiling,” which will consist of 13,500 individual LED lights that will be displayed outside the El Paso Museum of Art.

Similarly, it was the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, not the taxpayers, that spent $300,000 in order to repair and upgrade the Star on the Mountain.

We prefer private investment over government largesse.

PHOTO CREDIT: “Bienvenido” by Christopher Weed, KISS FM 93.1.