Not one penny less

Our city council is taking steps to finalize next year’s budget.  They have already introduced an ordinance that would allow them to raise their property tax rate by up to 5.29%.

They tell us that ordinance outlines the maximum increase that they might impose.  In other words the rate may go down.  I tried holding my breath but nearly passed out while writing this post so I decided to breathe through it.

City staff made a presentation at council’s July 28, 2016 that actually recommended some budget reductions from last year.  The total of their recommendations was $815,604.  That’s a pretty sorry number when you consider that they are looking at a $904 million budget next year.  Not being able to improve operational costs by one percent tells us that they are not serious about keeping taxes in line.

In fact

The budget discussion included this 75 point listing of “Budget/Informational” requests.  Almost all of the items were originated by city representatives.  The list included some items that many of us would agree with such as planning regular budget amounts for street maintenance and lighting.

Unfortunately several of the requests from council members asked city staff to look into the feasibility of imposing additional fees in addition to the tax increase.  These items caught our eye:

  1.   “… do what is necessary to raise sales tax revenues and decrease property taxes.  Do not balance the budget by raising tax rates.  It is time to cut them.”
  2.   “Implementation of Soda Tax (3 cents per ounce) to fund projects such as:  street paving, pending NMTP projects, expanded prekindergarten, park improvements, and budget shortfalls.”
  3.   “Can we look into a Municipal Development District (MDD) Sales Tax as an alternative source of revenue?”
  4. “Can we look into implementing a coin operated tax?  If so, can we find out what revenue could be generated from $15 per year/machine?”
  5. “Can we look into a child safety fee as an alternative source of revenue?”
  6. “Resue [sic] the existing San Jacinto holiday lights at another location in the city.”

Number 1 would take a creative solution.  I suppose that council could try to force businesses to increase prices so that there would be more sales tax on each item.

Number 2 would create an accounting nightmare for businesses and the city causing soda prices to increase by more than the 3 cents per ounce and probably causing the city to have to create an entire department of bubble managers.  Leaving the financial issues aside the city would also have to deal with our citizenship that generally resists increased government intervention in our lives.  The issue of the city  getting into the prekindergarten business is another problem with this idea.

Number 3 this city representative clearly does not know that the state puts limits on the percentage of sales tax that the city can charge and that we are already at that limit.

Number 4 has some of the same problems as number 2.  We can all probably imagine the legion of vending machine inspectors that the city would end up creating.

Number 5 is simply disingenuous.  It seems that the city representative wants to add an additional fee to the cost of renewing our vehicle license plates and then use the money as an “alternative source of revenue” instead of using the money to somehow or other make children more safe.

Number 6 is a classic.  We were told the other day that the old holiday lights had deteriorated.  Now for only another $50,000 they can salvage some of them and install them somewhere else.  Using workable lights sounds like a good idea.  It looks like the real problem was the misleading reasons for getting new lights at San Jacinto.

No reductions

We find it really remarkable that none of the 75 items asked for consideration of a way to reduce spending.

We deserve better


5 Responses to Not one penny less

  1. U says:

    I’ve been trying to tell you folks for years but you wouldn’t listen. I and others were called crazy among other names. You were warned about the city’s spending but you turned a blind eye to it. Well now you are going to have to pay and pay because you decided not to listen and ignore the facts in front of you. So dig deep into your pockets and shell out more more tax dollars for less service and find a second, third,or fourth job because you are going to need it.


  2. Old Gringo Guy says:

    How about a 3 cents an ounce tax on alcoholic beverages? Now that would bring in some money! 3 cents tax on each cigarette or cigar or ounce of tobacco? Hell, how about a tax on all Lone Star purchases? Or a an occupancy tax on each occupant of all our many
    housing projects? A tax on pan handlers? Why the mind boggles at all the things that the city could tax!


  3. Fed Up says:

    To show just how absurd this is, a 3 cents per ounce tax on sodas would cause the price of a 20 oz bottle of Coke or Pepsi to increase from $1.89 to $2.49, plus the ordinary sales tax.

    Can you put names on each these ideas?

    There is no mention of any tax related to developers. The reason they are looking at these schemes rather than just increasing property taxes to an even more absurd rate is that the developers and real estate people would scream bloody murder.

    If we had all the tax income that they have given up through special tax incentives to developers and certain businesses, there would be no need to keep screwing individuals. Also, stop rebating sales tax to Mexico citizens, who use our infrastructure and services on a regular basis.

    Start collecting all the millions of dollars in outstanding fines that are not paid.

    If you ever questioned whether these people are truly schemers and deceivers, you now have your answer.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Let’s add a $5 tax per ballpark ticket and a 3% tax on concessions there. I know that won’t fly, but neither should additional consumption taxes. Retailers here face a double whammy: reduced sales from construction disruption and reduced spending from Mexicans thanks to the devalued peso. Increasing their overhead costs or adding taxes that would further discourage shopping is just stupid. But par for the course. Look around you, CC. The economy is slowing. It is time to cut spending.


  5. Haiduc says:

    El Paso is on the way to be number one: highest taxing city in the USA! This is NOT good since El Paso is in the top 10 poorest per capita in the country.
    El Paso is my home and I pray I can afford to retire here.


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