At this rate …

Max Grossman sent this out:

The General Fund Budget of the City of El Paso increased from $344,566,512 in FY 2014 to a projected expenditure of $428,597,800 in FY 2019, an increase of 24% (FY 19 Budget Book, p. 134). During the same period, our City property tax has also increased by 24%, along with a 24% increase in our debt servicing costs (City chart attached).
During the same five-year period, the population of El Paso grew from 682,648 to approximately 684,500 people, a gain of less than 1,900 people (0.3%).
How can our City possibly justify such a massive expansion of government in so short a time when our population has flatlined? Given the budgetary situation, does it make sense for the City of El Paso to build a sports arena that we did not vote for and cannot possibly afford?

12 Responses to At this rate …

  1. ripper1951 says:

    It made no sense to build the baseball arena, and the taxpayers will be paying for it. It made no sense to bring Top Golf and Great Wolf in, and taxpayers will be paying for that. It makes no sense to expand the QOL bonds to provide parks and water attractions when streets are in disrepair and abandoned central homes need demolishing. That pretty much sums up the City Councils, County Commissioners and mayor El Paso has had for the past 30 years- they make no sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    Fuzzy math, Maxie, ole boy. Are you inferring that 100% of those taxes are paid by those 1900 people?

    Spoken like an academic who has never built a business.

    Perhaps he can use his financial acumen to explain something a little closer to (his) home.

    Last year UTEP saw its 20th consecutive increase in student enrollment, from 25,078 students to 25,151 students for a gain of…wait for it…73 students.

    Using Max’s logic these students are paying for all the shiny new buildings, the addition of new skyboxes in the Sunbowl, and amongst everything else, the $10,415,840 (14.8%) increase in faculty salaries (good for you, Max, you earned it).

    But don’t expect Max to have much to say about that inconvenient truth. His math just got a little fuzzier…


    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, Max’s point about flatlined growth is valid. The argument for the Q of L projects were that they would drive economic development and growth. More than 10 years into this stupidity, it isn’t happening. A private business would look at these numbers and make adjustments to the product lines that weren’t making their numbers. They also might kill products with consistently low demand and reduce staff. But our city keeps raising taxes and spending. Now that the state is about to limit that ability Council is threatening everything from lowering exemptions for those on fixed incomes to shutting down stuff they’ve built. Note to City, if you can screw retirees on exemption promises and reduce operating hours on Q of L projects, you can also tell Foster you can’t build him an arena for his soccer team.


    • There’s no fuzzy math going on here. There’s no inference that the 1900 population increase is paying the increase in taxes. What IS stated is that the increases in taxation are highly disproportionate to population growth. And the reasons for that are the city clowncil being snake oil salesmen for the developers and others receiving these bloated construction contracts to build things that will only really benefit the developers by adding amenities to the areas near where they are actively selling lots and renting commercial property.


      • Dan Wever says:

        Anonymous’s fuzzy math comment and then asking a question of Max about his inferring something and then writing an answer like Max had answered the question makes me understand why some people use anonymity to post.


        • Anonymous says:

          Two different anonymous posts Dan. One understood what Max was saying. The other totally misread the original post.


    • Max says:

      If you are going to comment and cite me by name, especially so rudely, why don’t you have the courage to identify yourself? Who are you?

      I made the simple point that City government is growing at a tremendous rate and that our population is barely growing, and that we cannot afford a sports arena. What part of that do you not understand? What does UTEP’s student population and my faculty salary have to do with Brutus’ post?



      • Also Anonymous says:

        Anonymous made a valid point. There is a similarity between the city finances and UTEP’s finances.

        UTEP’s operating budget for 2019 is about $216 million, a 7.3% increase over 2018. The City’s general fund budget appears to have increased slightly less than 5% annually over the past five years. UTEP’s operating budget increased by about the same percentage over that period.

        With enrollment of about 24,000 and average tuition of about $7,000, there appears to be a gap of about $50 million that is being covered by someone other than students. What is your view of UTEP’s increased operating costs and capital spending relative to its enrollment. Where do you stand on increases in tuition the implications for student debt? How do you feel about the incoming president being paid more than the more qualified outgoing president? What is your position on UTEP’s money-losing sports programs?


  3. Max says:


    May 23, 2019

    Mayor Dee Margo and Members of the City Council
    City of El Paso
    300 North Campbell Street
    El Paso, Texas 79901

    Dear Mayor and Members of El Paso City Council:

    For far too long, we have been engaged in litigation with the City over the destruction of Duranguito, which you would replace with a sports arena mischaracterized as a multi-purpose performing arts and entertainment facility.

    Let us begin by repeating our consistent appeal to the citizens of El Paso as to why this historic site is worthy of preservation. It is the birthplace of the City of El Paso (see Attachment A below). It is supported in its importance by the presence of numerous historic buildings and sites within its boundaries, not the least of which is the last remaining building that stands in testimony to the importance of the early Chinese citizens of El Paso. Moreover, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Texas, and even the City’s own Historic Landmark Commission and City Plan Commission all oppose the demolition of the neighborhood. The El Paso Preservation Forum we hosted on December 16 included the heads of key national and state-level organizations, all touting the benefits of preserving Duranguito, and the entire discussion is available on video. If properly restored, this area will bring new economic vitality to downtown El Paso, become a key attraction for thousands of heritage tourists, and give the City international acclaim.

    Each of you needs to consider this question: “Do I wish to destroy the birthplace of my city?” This is the only city in the State of Texas, possibly in the entire United States, which has the opportunity to make such a consequential decision about its historical heritage. Would you not like to be remembered, as your personal legacy, as having helped to ensure the preservation and, importantly, revitalization of your City’s birthplace? Make no mistake, we would never suggest this without evidence that saving and restoring Duranguito is not only something that will bring unique visual appeal and enduring economic growth to El Paso, but will also reduce taxes, add jobs, and generate revenue, rather than burdening the City with debt. Although all our previous attempts to arrive at a settlement that would permit the City to proceed with its plans for a sports arena while preserving Duranguito have failed, we believe this is an appropriate time for a new proposal.

    The current litigation is on appeal in the Third Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Texas. These courts will render decisions in the near future that may make settlement much more difficult. To be clear from our side, if the Third Court of Appeals affirms Judge Crump’s order granting the THC’s plea to the jurisdiction, we will file an original mandamus proceeding in the Supreme Court of Texas. With respect to the case currently before the Supreme Court of Texas, we believe that there is a reasonable likelihood that the Third Court of Appeals’ decision will be reversed. We are prepared to press ahead in the courts for as long as it takes to achieve our objective. We understand that the City’s view of the pending lawsuits on appeal is at variance with ours, but that fact alone makes this the perfect time to again try and resolve our disputes. In that spirit, we have formulated the following conceptual settlement model, which is based on business and economic considerations that could bring an end to the extensive delays that have occurred and will continue to occur if litigation is not brought to a halt.

    1. The relevant 2012 ballot called for “multipurpose performing arts and entertainment and library facilities improvements.” There is nothing in the ballot about building a new structure. To fulfill the promise in the ballot, the City would renovate the Abraham Chavez Theatre, which is already a multipurpose performing arts and entertainment facility, and bring it up to contemporary standards for approximately $35 million.

    2. The City would use the $145 million in savings from not building a sports arena to complete the other Quality of Life Bond projects within the $473,250,000 budget, obviating the need to issue new debt.

    3. The City would create an historic district that would include Duranguito, following the clear recommendations of the City’s own 1998 survey and the 2017 County survey. The City would join with the County to provide guidance for revitalizing Duranguito, which would be included within both a local H-overlay district and a National Register district, just like Sunset Heights. State and federal tax credits would become available to restore the contributing National Register buildings with private-sector money. A virtual digital model of how Duranguito could look if it were restored was presented to the public and media on December 16 and is available on video.

    4. The City of Austin’s recent transaction with a group of private investors for the construction of a $225,000,000 soccer stadium provides a practical model for construction of a sports arena in El Paso. The City would enter into a long-term ground lease with developers who would agree to design, build and operate, at their sole expense, a sports arena. For example, the City could use any one of several large tracts of land at the airport for this purpose. Instead of leasing land for hotel development, the City could lease airport land for development of a sports arena. This strategy would put currently vacant land at the airport to productive use that would benefit numerous local businesses and allow a sports arena to be constructed in a manner that would not destroy cultural resources.

    If a settlement is reached, all existing litigation would be dismissed, with prejudice, each party to be responsible for its attorneys’ fees and costs.

    Please let us know if you would like to enter into discussions to reach a definitive settlement agreement. This is a settlement offer and may not be used in any ongoing litigation.

    Respectfully yours,

    /s/J.P. Bryan

    /s/Max Grossman

    On December 16, Saul Saenz of KVIA conducted separate interviews with J.P. Bryan and Mayor Margo, focusing primarily on the fate of Duranguito:…/abc7-xtra/abc7-xtra-121618/937248468. The Mayor, who is the primary advocate for the neighborhood’s destruction, twice claimed that Chihuahuita, not Duranguito, was the birthplace of El Paso. Compounding his lack of knowledge about the history of his own city, the Mayor went on to state that he “reminded people” and the President of Mexico, during the President’s inaugural celebration, that El Paso began south of the Rio Grande. This statement is alarming because it is historically incorrect; and if the Mayor believes that based on this erroneous position that Chihuahuita, not Duranguito, is the birthplace of El Paso then, when presented with the facts, he should immediately reverse course and support the preservation of Duranguito and not its destruction. So there is no confusion, Chihuahuita was established by a Spanish land grant to Ricardo Brusuelas in 1818 within the Viceroyalty of New Spain. His parcel was south of the Rio Grande and a satellite of El Paso del Norte, now called Ciudad Juárez. The area north of the Rio Grande, however, had long been Apache territory. No Spanish/Mexicans had the resolve to settle there until Juan María Ponce de León established his ranch on the north bank of the river in 1827 and gave birth to what later became El Paso. The TSHA Handbook of Texas states: “The municipal council of El Paso del Norte granted land north of the Rio Grande to Juan María Ponce de León – his land is now the site of downtown El Paso.” Moore Archeological Consulting, recently hired by the City to conduct an archaeological survey of Duranguito, has affirmed in writing that the neighborhood included Ponce de Leon’s ranch. Chihuahuita, along with several other communities that had been south of the Rio Grande, ended up north of the river in the course of the middle- to late-nineteenth century because of repeated flooding that moved the river bed hundreds of yards to the south. The Mayor’s comment to the President of Mexico that El Paso began south of the Rio Grande is an embarrassment. El Paso del Norte was renamed “Ciudad Juárez” in 1888, and the name “El Paso” became the sole possession of the town first settled by Ponce de León. Certainly, the President of Mexico knows his history well enough to have realized the blunder of this historically wrong “reminder.”


    • Fed Up says:

      You wrote ”saving and restoring Duranguito is not only something that will bring unique visual appeal and enduring economic growth to El Paso, but will also reduce taxes, add jobs, and generate revenue”.

      You are as delusional and self-serving as your opponents. To try to get your way, you are promising economic benefits that have no basis in reality. That is the same kind of BS that was used to sell the ballpark and the Quality of Life bond. You and your opponents have more in common than you realize.


      • Max says:

        Really? Then how do you explain the billions of dollars in economic activity generated by the preservationist projects in San Antonio, Galveston, Fredericksburg, Marfa, etc.? How do you explain the fact that heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Texas economy? Have you ever traveled to Santa Fe or even Mesilla? Educate yourself before you start calling others delusional.


    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly, since your common sense solution doesn’t give MountainStar a soccer stadium at taxpayer expense near the border where the bulk of folks with the strongest interest in soccer want to cross (hint: they aren’t taxpayers), it is unlikely to pass. Our local taxpayers are getting so overburdened the disposable income needed to take the family to sporting events on a regular basis no longer exists. So even if they like soccer, they will have a hard time going to the games.


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