Taxing us out of business

Let’s say that our job is to recruit new businesses to El Paso.

How should we try to get around this?

According to the 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study from the Lincoln Institute El Paso had the 4th highest commercial property tax rates of the largest 50 cities in the United States.

If you look at our rates and the average rates we are generally 1/3 higher than the other cities.

We deserve better


10 Responses to Taxing us out of business

  1. ripper1951 says:

    That answered one of my many questions. Now, who determines our commercial tax rate? Local government or state?


    • Anonymous says:

      Local taxing entities: city, county, school districts, UMC, EPCC determine tax rates. The bigger issue is look how many places we moved up (8-11) depending on property values. Our trend is to increase taxes faster than other cities. Businesses that employ large numbers of people do look at those trends. Every one of those cities with lower taxes also have better Q of L amenities so nothing we are doing makes us more attractive. We killed the one thing we had going for us (lower C of L) when we starting becoming bond issue junkies. Instead of complaining about the Tornillo facility, our local politicians should be lobbying growth there because it is doing a better job of providing jobs than any business they’ve recruited and the contractor employees coming from outside the area are filling EP hotels and spending per diem money locally. And it didn’t get friends and family tax incentives.


      • ripper1951 says:

        The problem I see with local politicians is they seem to think they can get a business to come here by offering to forgive them the very taxes it takes to support them. A form of mordida, yes. It also attracts shaky start ups and other who know they won’t be around in 5 years. And, honestly, local politicians only want politically correct businesses. Heaven forfend if they attracted gun/weapon manufacturers! Or “polluting” heavy industries like smelting, steel fabrication, or even textiles.


    • Brutus says:

      City, county, school districts, county hospital, community college.


  2. John Dungan says:

    Apparently, neither one of you is aware of local history, and neither one of you has much of a heart. First of all, supporting the Tent City – which has already announced its pending closure, by the way – is not exactly going to attract new business or tourists or anything worthwhile. Secondly there is a reason beyond pollution that we no longer have smelting (although Phelps/Dodge certainly exists, and we still have a refinery right next door), or textiles. We never had steel fabrication, but Border Steel is still in business. As for manufacture of just about anything, ripper1951, we have not had any manufacturing here for years, because of where we are! Learn about our history and become aware of our current situation before you start shooting from the hip, folks.


    • ripper1951 says:

      John, been here since 1951, know the history well. And “where we are” is a cop out. Our current situation has been brought on by a series of mayors and city councils more concerned about politically correct appearances, maintaining the status quo, and feathering their own nests, than by facing reality. Reality= Q of L nice to haves do not equal attracting more business. Reality= low literacy rates are not attractive to major businesses. Reality= uncontrolled expansion east, west and northeast while central stagnated creates an appearance similar to Detroit. Reality= each border city is unique, however true border cities do not attempt to make themselves over in the image of the foreign city to attract more businesses. The solution isn’t in more parks, more Wolf Lodges, more Top Golfs, more sports venues, more hotels with 10 year tax forgiveness’ clauses. And yes pollution was a problem and will continue to be as long as the industries south of the border exist. The solution to pollution isn’t simple.


    • Anonymous says:

      John, I know our history and have worked in manufacturing on both sides of the border. The only thing different about our city now vs 20 years ago is that 20 years ago our movers and shakers included folks who owned manufacturing companies. Today, they are all service sector folks. Many of the cities on that list have thriving manufacturing sectors in spite of higher labor costs. Most of the folks they hire entry level have no more than a high school education but their workforce development organizations actually are will to train in the skills that are needed—we’ve lost jobs because of lack of soldering training support here—some community colleges in other cities have entire electronic production lines to train technicians for electronics companies. Had we not beefed up our taxes we could have successfully sold ourselves as a cost competitive option (and read the new NAFTA agreement—to use it Mexico’s factories have to have an average wage of $15 an hour. They still have options to go around that under the maquila program, but it will help. Mexico also has higher utility costs so highly automated industries aren’t as competitive (for example automated electronics assembly). If the China tariffs go away (many electronic components come from China so companies are now going to Mexico and exporting under the maquila program to avoid the 10% tariff) and the NAFTA replacement is ratified we would be in a position to be competitive, particularly in automated PCBA assembly and defense assembly not able to be built in Mexico. But the movers and shakers here don’t really understand manufacturing and do nothing to encourage it. The benefit is it is transformative—manufacturers take unskilled folks and train on the job. And electronics manufacturing does not pollute—your analogy to Asarco shows how little you understand the types of manufacturers out there. And if you look at regions like Singapore, Batam and southern Malaysia, it is possible for manufacturing to thrive in both higher cost, low cost regions if the higher cost region finds ways to market itself. Finally, your statement about Tornillo shows a lack of understanding about basic economics. No, Tornillo won’t attract tourists but the contractors running it are bringing in some employees from out of the area and paying their expenses to live here in local hotels. That means HOT tax payments, hotel room occupancy which is good for the area. They are also hiring folks locally. Again, good for the economy. And if you stay current with the news they’ve postponed the shutdown.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Max says:

    And the same study reveals that our homestead tax is number 2 after Detroit among the 50 largest cities!


  4. Truth Be Told says:

    Let’s not forget that a select few owners of commercial property do not pay those rates, which raises rates for everyone else. There are numerous examples, one being the Hunt Westar tower that is planned for downtown. There are many others not paying their fair share —- Foster’s Fountains at Farah, downtown hotels, and the list goes on and on. Just look at the Great Wolf deal. Those with the most money and the greatest ability to pay are the ones that manage to avoid paying the full tax rate. This is beyond absurd.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rich Wright says:

    You overlooked the fact that our industrial property tax rates are the highest among large cities in the U.S. We’re Number One!


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