All six of our local television news outlets reported that the City is lowering our tax rate by 4.49 cents without informing their viewers that the 13.3% increase in property valuations actually means that El Pasoans are facing an average tax increase of 6.1%, amounting to $83 per year.
KVIA, KTSM, KFOX, CBS 4, Univision 26 and Telemundo 48 all uncritically repeated the City’s talking points without providing any context or opposing viewpoints, which is a huge disservice to the voting public. Moreover, the City voted to lower the tax rate on August 1 and the television media have had 6 days to correct the record but have instead remained silent.
By contrast, Elisa Perez of El Paso Matters was the first to alert the public about the potential for a City tax rate increase, on July 5, and she followed up with a second report on July 19. On Tuesday, the day after the City Council vote to lower the tax rate, she published a third report titled “Despite again lowering proposed tax rate, city tax bill to increase.”
The El Paso Times also got it right, with Adam Powell publishing a report on August 3 titled “El Paso’s city tax rate dips in latest budget proposal, but property bills set to rise.”
Vic Kolenc, also of the El Paso Times, also nailed it with his August 5 report titled “El Paso plans property tax increase, not decrease that officials tout, city notice shows.” Kolenc cites the public notice the City published in the El Paso Times on Friday, under the Texas truth-in-taxation law, indicating that the “proposed tax rate is greater than the no-new-revenue tax rate. This means that City of El Paso is proposing to increase property taxes for the 2022 tax year.”
As for El Diario de El Paso, their staff uncritically published the City’s talking points on August 2 but then republished Elida Perez’s El Paso Matters report in Spanish the following the day, correcting the record.
It is interesting that James Quintero of the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin wrote a report on July 13 warning that “El Pasoans Could Soon Pay Higher Property Taxes” but not a single local television network warned the public.
I realize that our local television media has been rightfully focusing on the third anniversary of the August 3 mass shooting in El Paso, but they should not let the City get away with this outright lie. I hope that each network will direct an investigative reporter to read the El Paso Matters and El Paso Times reports and then correct the record during their primetime newscasts.
The people of El Paso deserve to know the truth about their taxes and the City’s deceptive practices, and the media, including our television networks, have a sacred duty to keep the public informed about issues that deeply impact the community.
Enjoy your Sunday.