Dear Friends and Media,

On November 5, 2019 El Pasoans voted to issue $413,122,650 in general obligation bonds for public safety projects.

The breakdown of how the funds would be spent was reported by Aaron Montes for the El Paso Times shortly before the election.

For the El Paso Police Department:

Eastside Command Center (Municipal Complex): $38.6 million

Public Safety Training Academy: $19.9 million

Police Headquarters: $90.6 million

Central Regional command: $24.6 million

Renovate four regional command centers: $44.8 million

Fleet Replacement: $3.3 million

For the El Paso Fire Department:

Fire Station 36: $11.3 million

Fire Station 38 (Municipal Complex): $11.8 million

Special Teams Station (Consolidation): $17.1 million

Station 40: $15.5 million

Public Safety Training Facility and Logistics: $29.6 million

Fire Headquarters: $29.6 million

Station Renovations: $74.4 million

Vehicle Replacement: $1.8 million

After glancing at these figures, you might be asking yourself how these projects could possibly cost so much!

Consider Fire Station 38.

On September 14, our City Council voted 8-0 under Agenda Item 34 to pay BRW Architects, Inc. up to $553,787 to design the facility, with an additional $100,000 authorized for “Basic Services and Reimbursables” and “Additional Services.” You can observe the vote at the 3:20 mark in the City video.

BRW has offices in Dallas, College Station, Houston, and San Francisco.

Buried on page 801 of the Agenda Packet (but absent from the Agenda) is the actual total cost of the 10,000-square-foot project: $11,800,000, which is $1,180 per square foot!

On page 801 we also learn that its amenities will include a “dormitory, food preparation/service area, media office, fitness areas, cold & dry food storage, restrooms/locker rooms, dispatch office, public restrooms, lobby, information technology server room, medical supply/equipment storage, three fire truck parking bays, decontamination shower room, and an industrial laundry facility.”

No, the fire engines are not included, nor are the fitness and office equipment.

But guess what?

Fort Worth just broke ground on a 10,000-square-foot fire station that will cost $4.6 million, or $460 per square foot.

Two years, ago the City of Edinburg, Texas built a 10,000-square-foot fire station for $2.5 million, or $250 per square foot.

Three years ago, the City of Ennis, Texas built a new 10,000-square-foot fire station for $2.4 million, or $240 per square foot.

So why is our fire station so expensive?

Enquiring minds want to know!


Hat tip to Fallon Fischer of KFOX 14 and Brutus of El Paso Speak for pointing out this issue.