A message from Mr. Bonart

Max Grossman sent this in:

Citizens of El Paso,

This comes from our friend Rick Bonart, who is leading the fight against the latest taxpayer rip-off.



This Tuesday, El Paso City Council will vote on whether to create two TIRZ on the West Side: TIRZ 10 and 12. These will rob the general fund of much needed tax dollars and adversely affect every citizen in every district.

See the Council agenda items 21.1, 21.2 and 21.3 here. See David Crowder’s report for the El Paso Inc here. See also El Chuqueno and  the discussion in El Paso Speak entitled “Developers Have Special Needs.”

TIRZ are not hard to understand. An area is created and property values are frozen in that area. As that area improves and tax values increases, the tax dollars generated from the increased value go back to the TIRZ. These TIRZ dollars can only be spent within the TIRZ. In other words, TIRZ rob the general fund of much needed revenue that would help keep all our taxes lower, while still requiring general fund dollars to provide basic city services.

TIRZ 10  and 12 will be some of the worst examples of government using public dollars to enrich private developers. These two TIRZ are huge. They prevent 5,000 acres of prime commercial and residential property along Interstate 10 and Transmountain Road from contributing to the general fund. This area is booming, not blighted. This area does not need public money to stimulate new growth or rebuild old buildings. The TIRZ funds will be used to repay developers for roads, sewers, water, storm water, parks and other things that are normal developer costs. Once established, TIRZ last for decades!

How bad is it?  TIRZ 12 will generate just $3 million in 36 years for the general fund while giving private developers $188 million. That’s $188 million that will not go to the general fund. These TIRZ are reverse Robin Hoods, robbing from the poor to give to the very richest men in our community.

TIRZ 10 and 12  are located within District 1, represented by Peter Svarzbein. However, instead of standing up for his constituents and leading the charge against the TIRZ, he has received campaign donations from all the developers who will benefit from the TIRZ! Mr. Svarzbein is running for re-election in November.

TIRZ can be a valuable development tool to help rehabilitate blighted areas. Unfortunately TIRZ have been used to line the pockets of the rich while harming poor neighborhoods. See this report from Houston, where folks have firsthand experience with TIRZ abuses.

It’s not too late to stop this! Come to City Council this Tuesday and stand with us. Let’s let Council know we will not be victims, and let’s remind them that they serve at our pleasure and not vice-versa! TIRZ 10 and 12 are not just unnecessary, they are harmful.

The City of El Paso has the second highest tax rate of the 50 largest cities in America. TIRZ will not lower your taxes, but will eventually result in higher taxes for all of us. This is very regressive and will hurt lower-income folks the most.

Rick Bonart

28 Responses to A message from Mr. Bonart

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you vote for someone accepting contributions from construction companies and developers this is what you are going to get. The level of money being spent on campaigns is high because contributors expect a return on investment from the candidates they support. This is what the ROI looks like. Don’t listen to what a candidate is saying—look at who is writing contribution checks.


  2. Well said Dr. Bonart! We can not afford these TIRZ when our taxes are already top dollar in El Paso. We wonder why we can not attract businesses to El Paso? Taxes….why would a company bring employees to El Paso when they know their employees will be taxed heavily. We can’t make this problem worse with these TIRZ!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I am curious to know what connection Ms. Herrera has to Hunt?
    First the Hunts want us to build them a ballpark, then an arena (maybe for soccer) and now to pay for their infrastructure in developments on the west side – some philanthropy.


  4. Fed Up says:

    More of the same from the usual suspects.


  5. anonymous says:

    Max left out one big thing. He didn’t explain who decides how the TIRZ dollars are spent. Let me guess.


  6. Hoodwinked says:

    “What we’re doing is creating a partnership with the developer, whomever that may be, to help offset some of the costs so this land can be built on.” —– Elizabeth Triggs, economic development director

    snicker, snicker, wink, wink


  7. Anonymous says:

    And shouldn’t we want developing this area to be slow and expensive? When are the idiots running El Paso going to realize that if folks driving into El Paso see nothing but zero clearance lot tract houses climbing up the mountain they are going to keep driving because it destroys any uniqueness we might have to offer (and that assumes there is actually traffic flow on the freeway instead of the gridlock we have now). Smart growth is a sham. It means developers make more money by putting more houses in developments. And because the families in those houses have no space, they spend more time driving out to eat or going places. More road traffic, increased need for parks since kids don’t have yards, more juvenile crime from bored kids who now hang out away from home and demands for more and more taxpayer-funded infrastructure. Meanwhile developers get richer because they are charging the same price for a house with no yard that they charged for a house with a yard. And if you consider our “culture” (large noisy families who like to get together in the back yard for cookouts and socializing), you end up with a living hell in smart growth neighborhoods which have limited overflow parking and no space between houses. And as someone who lived in the SF area during the Berkeley Hills fire, I also remember the chaos narrow streets caused when cars parked on the street and fire engines made evacuation by cars impossible. Smart growth sounds good, but it is really just a way for a handful of folks to make money. At the end of the process, you’ve got high density tract housing as far as the eye can see.


  8. Rico Suave says:

    So the fact that this Item is on the City Council agenda means it is already a done deal…. 😦


  9. Chico says:

    Today’s decision by council is one of the more disgusting decisions by EP City Council. Noe, Rivera, Morgan, Hernandez, and Ordaz voted for the TIRZ. Had their been a tie, you know Margo was all in on this one.

    Svarzbein, Annello, and Lizarraga voted against. To his credit, Svarzbein spent some time in the area affected, talked to people, and took photos.

    Apparently, the council members who supported the TIRZ made several comments such that we the taxpayers just “don’t understand” the value of such a decision. Noe was particularly ugly about westsiders and their self-centered viewpoints. I previously thought he was one of the better council members. Opinion switched after today.

    We certainly deserve better. This was one of the most pathetic displays by elected officials in our city.

    Stay tuned for the developer who gets the inside deal. This one stinks badly.


    • Not Surprised says:

      Noe’s vote is no surprise. Ironically, the philosophy behind a TIRZ is about as selfish and self-centered as it gets.



    • Anonymous says:

      Given that Noe seems to be a puppet of developers, I understand. I suppose being called selfish is better than being called crazy. Here’s the reality Dr. Noe, you are destroying El Paso visual uniqueness and forcing taxpayers to pay for amenities that developers should be responsible for. The city should not be helping developers destroy open space faster. Let the risk and reward of pure capitalism determine the speed of growth. I’ve visited several smart growth communities. They are building out much slower than other communities because folks aren’t impressed with small overpriced houses with no yards. I also have no idea where this “growth” is coming from. I know in my community we have a lot of Juarez residents who buy a second house here and let it sit vacant and often unmaintained most of the year. I’m not sure it makes sense to destroy open space to build houses for investment buyers or folks in the cycle of bugging out to the US when Juarez gets violent and moving back when things calm down. Believe it or not that activity depresses housing prices when things are going well in Juarez because of neglected houses and gluts in the rental market.


    • Anonymous says:

      If there is such value in the decision why aren’t the west side reps supporting it? Could it be that they realize their constituents don’t want it? Seems to me that reps that do not live in the area should not be trying to force this decision and in fact should be voting more in line with the reps that do live in the area and listen to their constituents.


    • Anonymous says:

      I am so proud of the council members who voted against this measure. VERY DISAPPOINTED in the vote of Cassandra Hernandez Brown. So who is on the short list? The Hunts? The Sanders?
      Visitors to El Paso used to comment on the mountains, the hiking, the lovely and picturesque neighborhoods. This Council is throwing all that to the wind. Shame on you.


  10. JerryK says:

    I am glad that my rep, Svarzbein, voted against the TIRZ. Much thanks to Rick Bonart for tracking this issue.


    • wondering says:

      This issue was just one vote. Do you ever get the feeling that city council reps take turns casting “no” votes in an effort to try to look good in the eyes of their constituents? It’s easy to vote against something when you know enough other reps are voting for it. That’s even an easy thing to explain to their campaign benefactors who they help on so many other votes. The important thing is consistency and Svarzbein has consistently supported some really bad things.


      • JerryK says:

        The 22 story monstrosity slated for Mesa and Shadow Mountain is certainly one of them.


      • Chico says:

        I agree. The rest of the council may expect the westside reps to vote “no” just to protect them in the next election. They had 5 votes regardless.


  11. good governance oxymoron says:

    One of the TIRZ probably TIRZ 12 may be to attract a resort.


    ONLY ON 9: Mountainside resort could be coming to El Paso


    El Paso Water has plans to conduct a feasibility study for an unnamed mountainside resort.

    According to a draft report obtained KTSM, the purpose of building the attraction is to help re-brand El Paso as a destination community.


    • Warren B. says:

      A resort in El Paso? That’s the worst business idea I’ve heard this year.


    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve actually stayed at one of these resorts in the Midwest for a business conference. They aren’t bad, but I can’t see it rebranding us as a resort destination, especially since they are already putting one in Scottsdale. Hmmm, let’s plan a vacation: El Paso or Scottsdale? Which location wins? We’ll be bankrupt before we match Scottsdale’s amenities. Sadly, El Paso wants to be a fast follower instead of leading in creating a uniquely El Paso brand.


  12. good governance oxymoron says:

    In case anyone would like to sign, here is a link to a petition to save the lost dog trailhead area.



  13. Anonymous says:

    From Great Wolf’s FAQ page: Do you sell day passes to the water park?
    Here at Great Wolf Lodge, our water parks are reserved exclusively for our registered guests. This is our way to avoid overcrowding and long lines.
    Bottom line, if you can ante up the cash to stay at the resort you won’t be able to access the water park (which is indoor in large buildings). So, El Pasoans who hear water park and think “something to do” better be saving up some dinero because you don’t get to play unless you stay. Should this really be a driving force for a TIRZ?


  14. geniuses need not apply says:

    Trying to attract an indoor waterpark resort is another example of stupidity on the part of local economic development idiots. We should be marketing the great outdoors, big sky, sunshine and great weather, but they think want to market an indoor attraction.


  15. good governance oxymoron says:

    The expansion of TIRZ 10 appears to be a “land gift” for Hunt to expand Cimmaron, based on page 10 of the TIRZ 10 Creation Presentation.

    The Hunt “land gift” has not been mentioned in any of the City or media press releases that I have seen.

    A lot of the area added to the TIRZ is already built.

    It apparently is not blighted or that difficult to build because Hunt’s “Cimmaron Vision” appears to include the existing structures

    The majority of the area is south of Transmountain Rd and adjacent to an large existing subdivision (I think the Highlands) that was built on the same “difficult” terrain without subsidy
    This area developed fast without a TIRZ and is all relatively new.

    You can access the link to the TIRZ presentation pdfs here:



  16. Kenneth Krueger says:

    wish i knew where to go and sign the petitions?


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