Another trip to the well

March 13, 2018

They don’t have to tell the truth when they circulate the petition to approve a new public improvement district.

Section 372.019 of the Texas local government code:

After notice and a hearing, the governing body of the municipality or county may make supplemental assessments to correct omissions or mistakes in the assessment relating to the total cost of the improvement.

So go ahead and agree to build what they want.

Remember the $50 million dollar ball park that ended up costing $76 million?

We deserve better


Factually wrong and unfair

October 17, 2017

Our current mayor wrote a piece for The El Paso Times the other day in which he said that a letter our current state senator recently sent to the mayor and city council was “factually wrong and unfair”.

After arguing that the city has no intention of building a “sports arena” the mayor wrote “Rather , the city will build a multipurpose, performing arts and entertainment center.   In reference to the location of the arena …”.

He might of called it an entertainment center instead of an arena if he really intends to obey the judge’s order and not allow sporting events in the facility.

Later the mayor wrote about the senator’s claims about ballpark financing.  The mayor wrote “Also, the models showed there would be a subsidy from the City’s General Fund until the growth in HOT and team revenues caught up”.

A July 7, 2013 article in El Paso Inc. told us:

Originally, hotel occupancy tax revenues were to pay for $48.7 million of the stadium cost with the remaining $4.1 million covered by ticket surcharges and stadium-generated sales taxes – money that would first go into the city’s general fund.

We doubt that the Inc. was lying.

Unfortunately the city is having to subsidize the ballpark with money  above and beyond ticket surcharges and stadium-generated sales taxes.


On June 26, 2016 city council passed a resolution that allowed the city manager to proceed with the ballpark deal.  When it came to financing the ballpark, the resolution said:

Financing Ballpark Construction.  The City Manager is authorized to proceed with the proposed financing plan, which ultimately may be modified to include the possible use of (i) a venue hotel occupancy tax if approved by the voters at a duly-called election; (ii) lease revenue bonds issued by a local government corporation formed by the City; and/or (iii) other debt obligations issued by or on behalf of the City for the construction and development of the Ballpark.

The resolution allowed three methods of financing, none of which included general revenue from the city taxpayers.

A good idea

In his conclusion the mayor wrote “I respectfully ask that you get your facts correct”.

Either the mayor is misinformed or he is not telling the truth.  Either way he does not have his facts correct.

We deserve better




Ballpark funding

September 26, 2017

Remember how the increase in the hotel occupancy tax was supposed to pay for the ballpark?

Take a look at this:

The city has been collecting about $2.9 million each year from the increase.

Now look at this:

The principal and interest due in 2017 will be $4.27 million.

The shortfall will have to come out of your house occupancy tax.

We deserve better


Why the advertising campaign?

September 7, 2017

We have to wonder why the sports group has launched an advertising campaign to garner support for a downtown sports arena.

Bonds have been approved for a multipurpose cultural and performing arts facility.

A state judge has ruled that the facility may not be designed to host sporting events.

The city is appealing.

It seems to us that the matter is in the hands of the courts.

Who are they trying to influence?

Do they think that the issue is going to have to go back to the voters?

If it is city council they are seeking to influence, it seems that they already have more direct methods.

We deserve better


Following Richard Florida

April 20, 2017

City officials used a report from Richard Florida to justify their moves toward downtown revitalization a few years ago.

The other day we heard this from NPR:

Richard Florida promotes what he calls the creative class. He has said for years that cities prosper when they attract upscale innovators and entrepreneurs. Make your city a place where the creative class wants to live, and they, in turn, will create jobs.

INSKEEP: Many cities followed that advice. And now Richard Florida faces the downside. The creative class, he says, is creating cities that are massively unequal.

Unequal indeed.

We deserve better


$13,285,000 more for the ball park

February 24, 2017

When the ball park bonds were originally sold the city told us they would make a large bullet payment of $17.4 million on the bonds in 2023.

We wrote about that in No Principles back in November of 2013.

No one should be surprised that city council knew that coming up with an extra $17.4 million dollars all at one time would not be possible.

The solution

The new management at the city has taken the steps necessary to keep us from having to cough up the money in 2023.

The April 11, 2016 meeting of the Downtown Development Corporation (city council in sheep’s clothing) gave permission to sell refinancing bonds.  The refinancing bonds will be used to buy back bonds that were issued in 2013 and thus eliminate the bullet payment.

Interest rates have gone down and money can be saved by locking in a lower rate through refinancing.

Unfortunately they felt the need to finance the $17.4 million also.

The result?

From the refinancing resolution:

the aggregate amount of payments to be made on the Series 2016 Bonds shall not exceed the aggregate amount of payments that would have been made on the refunded Series 2013 Tax Exempt Bonds had the refunding not occurred by more than $13,285,000, net of any issuer contribution

Even with the interest savings we still are going to pay up to another $13.2 million in interest because of the need to finance the $17.4 million bullet payment.

The problem here is that financing numbers did not work back in 2013.  The city put the $17.4 million in as a bullet payment to make it look like they financing was viable.

Does it ever end?

We deserve better


DDC not providing meeting minues

February 18, 2017

When city council decided to build our ballpark they created the Downtown Development Corporation (DDC).

Note that it was not named the Ballpark Development Corporation.

That should tell us something.

While the DDC is required to comply with Texas local government rules it seems to want to operate behind the scenes.

They have held meetings in June, August, and October of 2013 as well as in March of 2015 and April of 2016.

None of the meeting minutes for those meetings are available on the DDC website even though minutes for earlier meetings are.

We deserve better


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