UPDATED 6/18/24, 11:32 PM

As we know, El Paso County plans to max out its bonding capacity by issuing up to $500 million in new debt, including $150 million without voter authorization.

In order to brainwash as many voters as possible into supporting their massive spending binge, on February 26 the Commissioners Court voted 5-0 under agenda item 15 to award a no-bid contract to Barracuda Public Relations in the amount of $539,750.

Asked why the County did not put the contract out to bid, Commissioner Sergio Coronado of Precinct 4 told Julia Spencer of CBS4, “We didn’t have enough time. By the time that we were considering doing this to be able to go out for those bids they would have taken a long time.”

So sayeth the man who voted himself a 16.2% raise after less than eight months in office, increasing his salary from $114,901 to $133,500.

You see, the more of your money that politicians want to spend, the more emphatically they claim it is an emergency!

We asked Commissioner Iliana Holguin of Precinct 3 for comment about the PR expenditure, since she has consistently focused on the plight of El Paso taxpayers and has earned our endorsement, and she kindly responded: “I am very concerned about the significant tax impact that the County’s proposed $500M bond will have on county taxpayers and it is absolutely vital that the Commissioners hear from residents who are also concerned about a potential debt issuance of this magnitude.  It is true that we have many needs in our community, but those needs must be prioritized and balanced against the burden that will be placed on homeowners if such a large amount of debt is issued.”

Libertarian Ryan Woodcraft, whom we have endorsed for County Commissioner of Precinct 1, is more critical: “In typical fashion, foresight and strategic thinking skills are lacking with our elected officials; and taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Is anyone surprised? This is a terrible way to run a household or a business, let alone our County government.”

It may be that Barrucuda was expected to conduct public outreach in order to gather input, but to us their PR campaign seems like a form of cheap propaganda.

In our view, every El Paso voter should reject all County debt issuances and publicly state their opposition to certificates of obligation, which are inherently unethical.

Our County apparently learned nothing from UMC’s failed attempt to ram $346 million in COs down the voters’ throats less than two years ago. They were foiled by the Libre Initiative, which gathered 35,000 signatures and shot it down, and we have no doubt they are prepared to do it again if necessary.

We will never forget that our current County leadership (with the exception of Commissioner Holguin) voted to raise our property tax and increase their own salaries. They cannot be trusted with a half-billion dollars in new spending, most of it totally unnecessary.

We will continue to monitor our County Judge and Commissioners closely and will remind our fellow taxpayers of their voting records if they run for reelection.