Another two step

One of the reasons some of our city council members has been giving for changing the agenda setting procedure is that items are being placed on the agenda without backup material.

Self inflicted

There was a time when the backup material was required to be submitted when the item was placed on the agenda.  If it wasn’t then a special vote of city council was required to consider the item.  They often ignored this rule when it was convenient.  The city parliamentarian, who is also the city attorney, admitted in a council meeting that she had not been enforcing the rule.

This council removed that requirement as one of their first things they did after being elected.  Testing the newbies warned of the consequences of this action back on June 23, 2013.

Now council is complaining about the lack of backup material.  The obvious solution is to go back to the old rules.  Instead they are taking the opportunity to shut down public discussion.

Is it a coincidence that they took step one at the beginning of their terms and are now taking step two at the end?  Are they hoping that we don’t remember?

We deserve better


8 Responses to Another two step

  1. Haiduc says:

    THIS IS BIG for US and City Council:
    City of El Paso: Revenue not keeping with expenses

    Maria Garcia
    POSTED: 05:56 PM MDT Mar 31, 2015

    EL PASO, Texas –
    The El Paso City Council received a sobering report showing the City’s revenue is not keeping up with its expenditures.

    “All of these costs are growing at a fast pace while our revenues aren’t growing at the same rate”, said Robert Cortinas, with the City’s budget office, who made the presentation to Council.

    Last fiscal year, the City collected about $149 million total in property taxes from residents. That’s not even enough to cover the costs of the Police and Fire Department, which totaled more than $212 million.

    The city makes up the rest with sales tax, which totaled about $82 million last fiscal year and additional revenue from things like inspections and fees.

    Cortinas said there are several “cost drivers” significantly impacting the budget such as quality of life bond projects approved by voters which will cost the City $800,000 this year and tax breaks for companies bringing jobs which total $3.8 million, rising health insurance costs at the tune of $1 million, $9.6 million worth of debt service, a ballpark subsidy estimated at $800,000 and property tax exemptions for the elderly and disabled which are expected to cost the City an additional $2.8 million.

    “We’ve made some cuts but the costs keep coming, said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez who added the City has slashed $500,000 from the budget but still has mounting economic challenges. Gonzalez said he wanted to be realistic with the Council to prevent City departments from having to make cuts a quarter into the fiscal year as in years past because of economic over projections. “That was very dysfunctional… we want to be upfront with you about these impacts”

    City Representatives characterized the problem as less dire.

    “But you’re not taking into consideration any growth in property tax, sales tax. This is just based on last year and what we would be looking at so this is basically the worst case scenario without any improvement,” said Mayor Oscar Leeser.

    City Rep. Cortney Niland also touted some progress. “We’ve seen $53 million in new revenue in just downtown to the general fund. We’ve seen 3500 new jobs, some of the highest hotel occupancy taxes in the state we’ve ever had, $243 million of growth throughout the entire city.”

    But Gonzalez said revenue growth was simply not keeping up. “You look at your revenue growth, it’s a percent and a half, that’s what your history shows. It’s meager.”

    Last fiscal year, a homeowner with an average El Paso home worth $124,000 paid about $869 dollars a year in city property taxes.

    It’s too early to tell how exactly this will affect city tax bills because these numbers are all preliminary and some things, such as the ballpark subsidy may eventually be less.

    Another major cost driver is the collective bargaining agreement with the Fire Fighters union that will determine the cost of a medical plan and pay. The most expensive plan with the union could cost the City $12.2 million over a four year period. Cortinas presented that figure in his projections for next year, instead of phasing it into the next four years — a move Leeser called “misleading.”

    “That’s a scare tactic and I didn’t like it,” Leeser told city employees…

    What say you?


    • Reality Checker says:

      City staff’s presentation showed a possible $35 million gap. Leeser and Niland argued that the number should be ONLY $24 million. The Times decided to go with the Leeser/Niland number in its headline and opening paragraph.

      Niland is actually proud of having the highest hotel tax rate in the state.

      Noe says we’re giving away too much, but focuses on the residential property tax exemptions for seniors and disabled rather than on council’s giveaways to developers and corporations.

      Giveaways?! Start with the ballpark and the terms of the one-sided agreement with Mountainstar.

      Niland throws out bull&*@! growth and job creation numbers to deflect attention away from things like the ongoing subsidies for Mountainstar. She says nothing about job losses including the fact that Paul Foster moved Western Refining’s corporate offices to Arizona.

      The Times is reporting about the projected shortfall, but actually helped create the problem through its own blatant promotion of the spending agenda and corporate welfare.

      Wait til the Sum Metro operating losses related to Brio start piling up.


    • Reality Checker says:

      “City Representatives characterized the problem as less dire.”

      That from the same people who chose to impose a franchise fee on the water utility rather than look for $3 million in cuts to the city budget, which the city manager recommended.

      The mayor and council are not just in denial. They are intellectually dishonest. What do I mean by that? Try these definitions.

      Intellectual dishonesty is when one avoids an honest, deliberate and comprehensive approach to a matter because it may introduce an adverse effect on personally and professionally held views and beliefs.

      Intellectual dishonesty is a failure to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion. If one deflects criticism of a friend or ally simply because they are a friend or ally, that is intellectually dishonest. etc.

      That folks, describes our city council.


  2. Jerry Kurtyka says:

    They have bigger problems just now than who can put an item on the agenda.


  3. Reality Checker says:

    The role of the parliamentarian is to ensure that rules and procedures are followed. Not following the rules and procedures creates risk and liability for the city. For the parliamentarian to not enforce the rules is unacceptable, especially when you consider that she is an attorney. This is the same city attorney who said all matters related to her performance review are private.


  4. They are not just hoping we have forgotten. They are counting on the short collective memory of the electorate. As you pointed out yesterday, the City, as a whole, still seems to be unaware that this odious Council has let Joyce Wilson’s camel nose back under the tent flap. She has already gotten rich at our expense, and now she is going to get richer. Just watch.


    • Sad El Pasoan says:

      Not only richer but more powerful. I wonder is Joyce Wilson more powerful than Hillary Clinton? Wilson’s personal emails were not an issue to our judges and respective authorities. The parliamentarian is not following the rules and procedures because our authorities are not enforcing the law.


    • Helen Marshall says:

      I’d say you are right, they are not hoping. They KNOW that only a handful of alert folks will have noticed in the first place and will remember now. And who cares about them, not enough to fill up a telephone booth (remember those?) !!


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