Mónica Ortiz Uribe of the El Paso Times just published an extraordinary report titled “El Paso’s property tax rate is among the highest in the nation. Here’s why.” This is the kind of investigative report that is extremely rare in El Paso and very badly needed. Every local journalist should read every word of this and take notes. Here are some passages:
“El Paso has the second highest property tax rate among the 50 largest cities in the U.S., according to a joint study by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence. Detroit ranks as No. 1.”
“El Paso’s property tax rate for homeowners within the El Paso Independent School District went up 21% in the last decade. The property tax revenue collected from those rates, which is split among five different taxing entities, rose nearly 70% to roughly $326 million since 2011.”
“Another factor that’s driving up the cost of those taxes locally is city government. […] City leaders show no indication of lowering El Paso’s residential property tax rate in the future. In multiple presentations to City Council, Cortinas has said the city will begin to see a growing deficit between its anticipated revenue and expenses. Cortinas projects the city’s revenue will be short by $37 million in 2023. By 2026, he forecasts the deficit will grow to $77.2 million.”
Uribe is to be commended for her outstanding report, which includes the two attached charts. She is the first local journalist to highlight the importance of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence, which compares the property tax rates of America’s 50 largest cities every year. Up until now, Rich Wright and I were pretty much the only two people in El Paso who bothered to read that report and share its results.
My only criticism is that there could have been some discussion of how the City’s spending priorities, which include boutique entertainment projects and huge subsidies for developers and corporations, have impacted our property tax rate. There might also have been mention of how El Paso’s low wages make the increasing tax rate especially painful, home values aside. But these omissions do not detract from Uribe’s achievement.
Kudos to the El Paso Times for hiring Mónica Ortiz Uribe and Anthony Jackson! I may have to upgrade to home delivery.