Does the Hotel Occupancy Tax help us or does it hurt us?

Max Grossman sent this in:


The Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, one of our state’s most influential advocacy groups, has a Facebook page that is followed by 315,091 people. In a recent post (5/25/18), they singled out El Paso for having the highest hotel occupancy tax in Texas.

According them, the top three reasons for ditching the hotel occupancy tax are as follows:

“1. This tax is supposed to fund projects like convention centers, which are supposed to then turn a profit. Sometimes those convention centers never turn a profit and sometimes they are never built in the first place.

2. This tax can hurt small businesses and local economies by discouraging tourism and siphoning away money that could have been spent locally.

3. Like any other private industry, the travel and tourism industry should not rely on taxpayer money for promotion and funding of its activities.”

As you know, some years ago the City tacked 2% onto our HOT, raising it from 15.5% to 17.5%, in order to fund the operations of a Ballpark that loses more than $500K every year and does almost nothing to support the hotel industry. Do you think anyone actually travels to El Paso and stays in our hotels to enjoy AAA baseball? We are constantly told that we deserve state-of-the-art facilities and that we must provide new amenities in order to keep El Pasoans from leaving El Paso. But in the end, we are being asked to subsidizeentertainment, even as our City’s tax-supported debt stands at more than $2 billion, we have the 2nd highest homestead tax rate among the 50 largest cities in America, and our streets are in third-world condition!

Since our City managed to turn a $50-million Ballpark into a $130-million boondoggle that will lose tens of millions of dollars over the life of our 30-year contract with the MountainStar Sports Group, and we are already $56 million over budget on 11 QOL bond projects, do you think we can trust the same City to manage the construction and operation of an “Arena” that comes with a price tag of $180 million?

Enjoy your day.

12 Responses to Does the Hotel Occupancy Tax help us or does it hurt us?

  1. ripper1951 says:

    Can we not start a recall of all city council members and the Mayor? Seems they all have lied, cheated and stolen from the taxpayers. The ballpark is a concrete sinkhole that sucks down tax money and provides income only to Mountain Star. Parks and quality of life projects guarantee the only inhabitants who will be around to enjoy them will be living on the far west side, as the rest of the city will be abandoned. There is no tourism or conventioneering in existence, so hotels continue to be built with no hope of higher occupancy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. epkamikazi says:

    One thing to consider… the majority of people coming to El Paso aren’t coming for San Jacinto Park… many are here because they have to, many happen to be driving down I-10 because who wants to drive 17+ hours between Phoenix and Dallas or San Antonio (my first stop in 1978 on my way to Ft Rucker, AL) and you know… Ft Stockton?


    • Anonymous says:

      Las Cruces’ total hotel tax is 13.1%. So 30 minutes more on the road saves you nearly 5% in taxes alone. Folks are starting to look at that and online hotel booking sites are starting to tell people.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous says:

    There should be a Wall of Shame depicting all city council members who saddled El Paso with the current tremendous tax burden. John Cook should be at the top of the list. He originally lied about not being in town the day they voted on the ballpark so he could later claim he was not involved. Luckily he didn’t make county judge, not that Veronica Escobar hasn’t saddled taxpayers with a fair amount of debt, not the least of which is the Children’s hospital. Because we “deserve” a world class children’s hospital that loses money.

    The taxpayers deserve a break.


  4. Short answer to your question, Brutus, is that no, we cannot trust these people “to manage the construction and operation of an “Arena” that comes with a price tag of $180 million.” Beyond that, I think it is rather clear that we, the citizens and taxpayers of El Paso, do not *need* or want this arena. I think that should be the first step. Somehow we have to make elected representatives listen to those who they are supposed to be representing! But, frankly, since our voter participation is so bad in this town, I really don’t know how to get this across.


  5. It's All Good says:

    The current mayor and most of the current city reps were not in office when the ballpark was forced on taxpayers. Taxpayers were not given a choice whether the ballpark would be built; only whether it would be paid for with an increase in the hotel tax. Even that was a lie because Mountainstar’s lease doesn’t cover all the actual costs. Svarzbein was not in office at the time of the vote, but he worked with Mountainstar to help promote the ballpark deal.

    As for the QOL projects only benefitting people on the west side, that’s pure east vs. west bull****.


  6. Anonymous says:

    The politicians, Public Officials in El Taxo couldn’t manage a sno-cone stand. As long as THEY can bleed the taxpayers for everything, anything THEY want and get away with it, THEY will do it. Why would any tourista going East or West down the Interstate spend MORE to stay in El Taxo? If they could afford to put Police on the streets, THEY would be running Interstate speed traps for the touristas. The Hotel tax is just another TAX, politicians don’t care what the MONEY is called. Mountain Star Sports did not even exist until they moved into El Taxo and they and the politicians Cook, Byrd, Niland, Noe, Ortega, O’Rourke, Wilson worked a plan to scam the “stupid, ignorant peons”.


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