Max Grossman sent in this note about the children’s museum:
“We need to go to another level to make sure that we’re going to deliver a quality project–and a project of excellence to the community.”
Tracey Jerome, Director of Museums and Cultural Affairs, City of El Paso, KVIA report, 5/22/18
$19.5 million were originally earmarked for the Children’s Museum, one of the signature “Quality of Life” projects. That figure has now more than tripled to $60 million, with $20 million coming from the El Paso Community Foundation and the balance coming from the City of El Paso. Thus the City is planning to issue at least $20 million in certificates of obligation to pay for the massive, bloated bond project,without voter approval. This is an egregious act of economic tyranny and it will not be tolerated.
Watch City leaders continue to tell us that we deserve a world-class state-of the-art facility, as our debt explodes into the red zone. I said it before and I’ll say it again: we have the 2nd highest homestead tax rate among the 50 largest cities in America and our City’s portion of our homestead tax, at $0.80 per $100 of valuation, is the highest among major Texas cities. Our tax-supported debt has exceeded $2 billion, which is more than Austin’s! This comes at a time when thousands of El Pasoans are receiving notices that their property taxes are skyrocketing; I got mine, which comes with a 10% tax hike in a single stroke! We cannot afford to expend tens of millions of extra dollars on entertainment projects that are not essential while so many of our roads resemble those of Beirut!
See the excellent report by Aaron Montes on the front page of the current issue of the El Paso Inc.
El Pasoans are watching, and they are not happy.
I won’t ask the old rhetorical “when will it end?”, since I figure our local problems are just like the ones facing us nationally, and those won’t go away until we all remember to do our civic duty and vote the bastards out. But, I do wonder what the hell is wrong with us that we let our local elected officials keep doing this to us? Do they think that bankruptcy will somehow be a good thing?
This bloat first came from the EP Community Foundation, which has arranged to build and run the children’s museum for the city. Some outfit in California apparently persuaded the EPCF that it had to spend $60 million or it would be a “failure.” EPCF has done some very good things, such as saving the Plaza theater, but this is not one of them. And as usual city oficials show no common sense or judgment about what is realistic.
That’s because the EPCF is controlled by the same people who control everything else.
The estimates in the QoL bond were vetted, or should have been, by the then city CFO. That explains everything.
Now she’s in charge of “vetting” EPISD finances.
There are very few things to a city that are worse than massive debt. One thing is that if there is ever a natural disaster, where certificates of obligation could and should be used to rebuild, that additional debt would see the potential for a city bankrupcy. We’re better than that.
We citizens of El Paso need to realize what is happening here and stop voting for the massive, bloated, bond projects whether they be city, county, or school district. A lot of this debt is OUR OWN FAULT! Learn how to say NO!
Our city officials by in large feel that they have an unlimited credit card. Well, it’s not unlimited and it needs to stop NOW!
STOP VOTING FOR PEOPLE WHO WOULD NOT HESITATE TO RUN OUR CITY INTO THE GROUND. It would be interesting to see the credit rating on some of these public officials.
LikeLiked by 1 person
No, we’re not better than that as our actions as a city continue to prove.
Everything city, county and EPISD are doing makes this a place people will want to avoid, not one they will want to visit or make their home.
Totally agree. Unfortunately, my experience has been that what those running for office say before and after they are elected are worlds apart. When running, every candidate wants to stop raising taxes, keep expenses down, fix the streets, etc. When elected, they just shrug and say they had no choice but to raise taxes. That’s a big problem.
Sadly, they are like a guy in a casino who keeps hitting the cash machines thinking that if he just continues betting he’ll hit it big. The difference is that while at some point the cash machine will cut him off, our City officials literally will need to start defaulting on payments before their ability to borrow without taxpayer approval starts to get limited. They are convinced we are just a few COs away from being the tourist draw of Phoenix or Dallas. During the depression, hobos used put special symbols on houses where people who were easy marks lived to tell other hobos where to go. I’ve got to wonder what kind of an underground referral system El Paso has with consultants who specialize in studies that drive big spending initiatives because it seems we employ a lot of them.
Detroit, here comes the sequel.