We warned you this was coming.
Today under agenda item 13, the El Paso County Commissioners Court is discussing its FY2024 Multiyear Capital Plan, which includes $500 million in new debt to be issued starting next fiscal year.
Page 6 of the PowerPoint backup announces the expenditure of $350 million in general obligation bonds, which must be approved by the voters, and $150 million in certificates of obligation and tax anticipation notes, which do not require voter authorization.
Pages 11-12 are a wish list of possible future County capital improvement projects totaling $823,670,314. Of course, not all of these can be funded by the proposed bonds, so the County will have to prioritize and make a selection.
Also in the backup is the Draft Project List of the FY2024 Multiyear Capital Plan. There you will find a galaxy of potential County projects, many of which have very high price tags.
Among these you will find $72,660,000 for Ascarate Park Improvements, including a fishing lagoon, splashpad, arboretum, enhanced pool/waterpark, and amphitheater. (Did anyone tell them that the City of El Paso and a group of investors in Sunland Park are building two different arenas?)
You will also find $6,573,509 in improvements for an asphalt parking lot at Ascarate Park, $4,752,000 for a 3-mile walking trail around Ascarate Park, $4,800,000 for a 2.4-mile walking trail from Gallegos Park to the River Park Walking Trail, $3,600,000 for a 2-mile walking trail from Sparks Park to Mission Ridge Elementary, $1,200,000 to upgrade the lighting at Sportspark Field to LED, $8,700,648 for a senior nutritional meal preparation kitchen, $3,025,938 for a jail annex surveillance system upgrade, $4,201,094 for an on-call records cloud service, and $12,004,800 for the design and renovation of the 4th floor of the County MDR Building on E. Overland Ave.
Mind you, there are scores of additional projects.
Many of the costs seem inflated to us, especially for items such as walking trails, which could not possibly cost so much unless they will be paved in Italian marble.
We hope that none of these cost estimates include compensation for County employees who are already on salary, because that would present a major problem.
Frankly, we don’t think the County should issue any new bond debt unless the five members of the Commissioners Court vote to cut their bloated salaries in half.
We will continue to watch the County closely as they maneuver to issue a half-billion dollars in new debt and increase our property tax.