No, we are not joking.

Earlier today we reported that the El Paso County Commissioners Court is poised to approve $500 million in new spending starting in FY2025, including up to $150 million in certificates of obligation and tax anticipation notes.

This comes on top of the $100 million in certificates of obligation and tax anticipation notes already authorized for the current fiscal year, plus a significant tax increase, plus double-digit salary increases for the County Judge and Commissioners.

At the 5:46:30 mark in today’s meeting, Chief Administrator Betsy Keller told the Commissioners Court that they may want to ask the public whether the County should consider investing in the UTEP Sunbowl! Keller did not cite a dollar figure or provide any specific information.

But here is what she said next:

“Another project we’ve talked about over time that there might be interest from the public in giving feedback on is a downtown area, or some area, of the community, a multipurpose center. And while there is some funding out there for one, there’s not funding out there for the one that was originally–enough funding, in my opinion–for the one that was originally proposed to our community.”

The City’s original plan for the arena (often called a multipurpose center) would have cost approximately $500,000,000. With the end of the litigation, the City agreed to limit the project cost to $180,000,000, which is what the public was told back in 2016.

But it now seems that there are certain folks in El Paso who will not take “no” for an answer and still want the public to pay for a large multipurpose sports arena, convertible for concerts and special events.

We know exactly who they are.

What we understood from Keller is that the County may potentially provide bond money so that the City can build a larger venue than the one that is currently planned, in “a downtown area, or some area, of the community.”

Can you hear those sirens wailing in the distance and getting louder?

There are powerbrokers behind the curtain who are playing with fire.