Disorganized or dishonest?

Things are getting less transparent at city council.  The May 19, 2015 agenda has these items on it without any backup material.  That makes it hard to rally the citizens to speak before council.  These items have no backup material other than the item placing it on the agenda:

13.1  Presentation on status and general overview of Capital Projects, including;

a. Carlos Bombach Park Improvements …

13.2 Discussion and action on Aquatics Plan.

15.4 Presentation and discussion on the 2nd Quarter Financial Report for FY2015.

16.1 Presentation of Strategies Plan – Goal 2

16.2 Discussion and action on the construction of Country Club Road.

16.3 Discussion and action on the construction of San Jacinto Plaza.

In addition the agenda includes an item to approve $62 million worth of certificates of obligation.  As the posts of the two days have discussed this item has backup material that provides a long list of projects but with no indication of how much each one will cost.  Making the item even more confusing is that the backup material that is provided indicates that the money will be spent in the future but according to an article in the Times the city’s chief financial officer has said the money has already been spent.

The lack of the backup material makes it harder for citizens and our city representatives to do their homework before staff makes their presentations and council is required to vote.

Shouldn’t we expect more of city management?  We might point out to them their own Goal 5: Promote Transparent and Consistent Communication Among All Members of the Community

We deserve better



7 Responses to Disorganized or dishonest?

  1. ManintheMoon says:

    People did you really think the CC was going to be open and transparent and weren’t going to use over ploy available not be held accountable with their past track recorder? Really! Here is a hint go do just a like research on debt ratios and then look at your city’s debt load to income. Be afraid be very afraid!


    • Helen Marshall says:

      Can you give us a bigger hint – what are the figures?


      • Reality Checker says:

        According to a report from BKD, the city’s outside audit firm, the city’s debt service to revenue ratio is 10%, which is magically at the high end of what is considered acceptable. It’s odd that it is 10% as opposed to 10.1 or 10.8. In the world of municipal finance, once you get north of 10%, it is cause for concern. Red lights start flashing and sirens start going off the closer you get to 20%. Those numbers include only the cost to service the debt.

        Looks good, right? Not so quick. A low debt service ratio can also be a sign of weakness if the ratio is low because a city has deferred capital projects and allowed important infrastructure to deteriorate. Think streets, schools, etc. Once the debt service for all those unstarted or uncompleted quality of life projects starts getting added to the calculations, the ratio will rise.

        What is not clear in the BKD report is whether those calculations include debt service related to Special Purpose Entities or Special Purpose Vehicles, which are structures used for off balance sheet financing. Off balance sheet financing is used to help make things like debt ratios look better than they really are.

        Draw your own conclusion.


        • ManintheMoon says:

          Reality Checker
          Clearly you have not found the total obligation of debt for the City of El Paso. You may wish to look closer. It is not easy to find but keep digging. I think it is important for people to find this answer for themselves because they learn something about how their government covers up the real truth of the debt of government and the use of what you may want to call creative accounting.


  2. Reality Checker says:

    It’s not either/or. They are both incompetent and dishonest. Case in point is Niland hiding behind the city attorney to avoid having to respond to questions about the San Jacinto project. Compare that position to her statements they day she supported awarding the project to IDIQ. She promised to be right on top of the project from start to finish to insure that it was managed correctly. City council and management have a pattern of using legal issues more and more frequently as excuses for not being open and transparent.


  3. Jerry K says:

    I ran into this all the time in my dealing with city departments, especially IT. If they don’t give you a plan with milestones and dates, then they”re never late and always on time:) Just like San Jacinto and Country Club Road.


  4. This being El Paso, I suspect that the discrepancy between what the Times reported and what the CFO reportedly said is likely that the money is owed for work already done, or committed, and there is no way to put a stop to this further expenditure by our out of control Council.


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