Putting the squeeze on local governments

November 16, 2017

It seems that congress is considering eliminating the personal income tax deductions for state and local taxes.

That would cause citizen involvement to lower local taxes.

Maybe that is a good idea.

We deserve better


Grading our politicians

November 15, 2017

The earlier post about the kindergarten report card got us to look into what else our elected officials might learn at EPISD.

According to the pre-kindergarten report card the school district measures these things:

Maybe we should change the age limit on these elected positions.  A pre-k child that gets a “P” for proficient on these things might be a better candidate than what we have.

We deserve better


Honey, I shrunk our income

November 13, 2017

Further to elrichboy’s post on elchuqueno.com which points out that the city lowered their income projections this year and thus tried to justify a property tax increase,  the data from the Texas comptroller of public accounts confirms elrichboy’s suspicions.

The city projected sales tax revenue to fall.

If you look at the numbers from the state sales tax revenues from the third and fourth calendar quarters of 2016 as well as the first calendar quarter of 2017 compared to one year before, our sales tax numbers are up.

If city management really expected sales tax revenue to decrease wouldn’t a reasonable person expect the city to cut back on their drunken spending?

Elrichboy’s post also shows the city forecasting a decrease in “Charges for services”.  Do they expect less demand from the citizens?  Are they planning to do a worse job collecting what is owed?  The other option would be that they expect to lower their fees.  Fat chance!

We deserve better


A way to get a vote on the performing arts center

November 9, 2017

The Durangito crowd has been trying to stop the construction of the performing arts center by creating an ordinance that would rezone the area.

Unless they take the issue to court it appears that they have been stymied by city council.

What they seem to fail to understand is that there is a difference between creating zoning and objecting to zoning.

Texas law (local government code) reads:

Sec. 211.015. ZONING REFERENDUM IN HOME-RULE MUNICIPALITY. (a) Notwithstanding other requirements of this subchapter, the voters of a home-rule municipality may repeal the municipality’s zoning regulations adopted under this subchapter by either:

(1) a charter election conducted under law; or

Our city charter gives the citizens the right to petition to create an ordinance.  The Durangito group might want to look at modifying the city charter through a petition and election.  Section 9.004 of the Texas local government code (for the benefit of the people at the city, that’s a law) says:

The governing body shall submit a proposed charter amendment to the voters for their approval at an election if the submission is supported by a petition signed by a number of qualified voters of the municipality equal to at least five percent of the number of qualified voters of the municipality or 20,000, whichever number is the smaller.

The state only allows city charter elections every two years.  If my recollection is correct the last one we had was on November 3, 2015 so an election can be called for.

The city is aware of this.  This slide came from a February 23, 2015 presentation:

We deserve better


They could learn it in kindergarten

November 8, 2017

This little snippet is part of the EPISD kindergarten report card:

Could we get our elected officials to attend that class?

We deserve better


The whole truth?–never

November 7, 2017

Further to the issue of the city’s out of town lawyer telling us and city council that:

 For decades, Texas Courts have consistently held that the power of the people to legislate through initiative petition or
referendum does not extend to zoning.

They could have

Notwithstanding any charter provision to the contrary, a governing body of a municipality may adopt a zoning ordinance and condition its taking effect upon the ordinance receiving the approval of the electors at an election held for that purpose.

That language is part of Texas Local Government Code section 211.015.  It clearly states that city council could have given us a vote on the zoning issue downtown.  That would be different from the process of initiative or referendum, but would require council to care about what the public thinks.

We don’t know how the citizens would vote if the issue were put on the ballot, but it would certainly clarify things.

Then again they simply don’t want us to have a say in the issue.

We deserve better



Another city lawyer fights the citizens with our money

November 6, 2017

The other day one of the out of town lawyers the city has hired to fight the recently denied second petition (see Killing initiative) either told a whopper or the Times misquoted him.

According to the Times:

Denton said the wording of the City Charter language regarding petition initiatives must have caused confusion.

The City Charter states the petition may be submitted to the city clerk and that official must verify the signatures and “thereafter must place the reproposed ordinance on the ballot at the next general election specified in state law.”

“The charter purportedly states the city secretary immediately puts the initiative onto the ballot, but the city secretary has no authority in Texas law to place something on the ballot,” Denton said.

The facts

Section 52.002 of the Texas election code reads this way:

Sec. 52.002. AUTHORITY PREPARING BALLOT. Except as otherwise provided by law, the following authority shall have the official ballot prepared:

(1) for an election ordered by the governor or a county authority, the county clerk;

(2) for a primary election, the county chair of the political party holding the primary;

(3) for an election ordered by a city authority, the city secretary; and

(4) for an election ordered by an authority of a political subdivision other than a county or city, the secretary of the subdivision’s governing body or, if the governing body has no secretary, the governing body’s presiding officer.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 48, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Point 3 clearly indicates that our city secretary (and only the city secretary) has the authority to prepare the ballot.

The city’s website explains it this way:

The City Clerk’s Division is responsible for conducting City elections for Mayor, City Representatives, El Paso Municipal Court and El Paso Municipal Court of Appeals Judges, Charter elections, recall elections, bond elections, and referendums.

Our city charter requires the city clerk to put such items on the next general election ballot and state law confirms the authority.

So was this guy lying or is he ignorant?  Can we get a refund on his fees?

We deserve better


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