Hotel occupancy tax issue

November 3, 2018

Good government oxymoron wrote this the other day:

A percentage of the HOT tax was approved soley for paying for the stadium.

How is the city legally allowed to waive it or rebate it back to a hotel???

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That got us to wondering so we found the ballot language that the voters were asked to approve.

VENUE PROJECT AND HOTEL OCCUPANCY TAX PROPOSITION

“AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF EL PASO, TEXAS, TO DESIGNATE THE MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STADIUM PROJECT AS A SPORTS AND COMMUNITY VENUE PROJECT WITHIN THE CITY IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAW AND TO IMPOSE A TAX ON THE OCCUPANCY OF A ROOM IN A HOTEL LOCATED WITHIN THE CITY, AT THE MAXIMUM RATE OF TWO PERCENT (2%) OF THE PRICE PAID FOR SUCH ROOM, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING SUCH VENUE PROJECT.”

Good government oxymoron is right.

According to the Texas comptroller of public accounts:

The city of El Paso collects the municipal hotel occupancy tax at 7 percent to support an auditorium and convention center, and in 2012 introduced an additional 2 percent levy via a venue district hotel tax for a multipurpose sports stadium. Combined city HOT taxes totaled $13.1 million in fiscal 2015.

The documents with the water park specify the hotel occupancy tax rebate at 7 percent.  It looks like the city is respecting its obligation on the 2 percent but the comptroller’s explanation seems to mean that the other 7 percent is also allocated and the city cannot re-purpose it.

We deserve better

Brutus


New water park

October 27, 2018

Item 22.4 on the Tuesday, October 30, 2018 city council agenda provides incentives for a company to build a convention center and convention center hotel in west El Paso.

This is the water park that has been the subject of recent speculation.

The estimated investment by the company is $150 million.  They are telling us that about 600 jobs will be created.

In return the company will receive:

100% city property tax rebate for 15 years.  The city’s rate is .843332 per hundred dollars of valuation.  That comes to $1.26 million per year in tax relief at the current rate.

100% city sales tax rebate for 15 years

50% hotel motel tax rebate for 15 years.  The tax is 17.5% of the room rate of which the city normally gets 11.5%.  That means the operation will collect the 17.5% and then get 5.75% returned to them by the city.

TIRZ 10 will fund $526,100 in infrastructure and safety improvements.

The park will be at 6850 Paseo Del Norte, across the street from the new Walmart.

We deserve better

Brutus


EPISD–financial rating

October 24, 2018

It doesn’t look like things are getting better at EPISD, at least from a financial perspective.

For 15 years the district achieved the highest rating and now they have fallen into the lower half of the above standard rating.

We deserve better

Brutus


EPISD debt service

October 23, 2018

This is the ballot language relating to the EPISD issue:

“APPROVING THE AD VALOREM TAX RATE OF $1.41 PER $100 VALUATION IN THE EL PASO ISD FOR THE CURRENT YEAR, A RATE
THAT IS $0.0647 HIGHER PER $100 VALUATION THAN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT ROLLBACK TAX RATE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF
GENERATING ADDITIONAL STATE FUNDING TO SUPPORT THE DISTRICT’S COMPENSATION PLAN AS ADOPTED ANNUALLY
INCLUDING THE ONE-TIME EMPLOYEE STIPEND IN 2018-2019, TO EXPAND ACADEMIC PROGRAMMING, AND TO SUPPLEMENT
FUND BALANCE. IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THE CURRENT TAX RATE, IF VOTERS APPROVE THE $1.41 TAX RATE, THE BOARD OF
TRUSTEES WILL REDUCE THE INTEREST AND SINKING RATE BY $.10, TO REDUCE THE TOTAL TAX RATE TO $1.31, WHICH IS
EQUAL TO THE TAX RATE FROM 2017-2018.”

The problem

Their 2018-19 Official Budget report shows:

Their existing interest and sinking rate (before the election) is $.24.  From that they estimate raising $37,913,980.  If they lower the rate by ten cents they will raise about $22.1 million.

That leaves them with just enough money to pay the interest on the bonds but none of the principal.

Also according to state law they can raise the interest and sinking fund rate next year without fear of triggering a roll back election.

We deserve better

Brutus


How big should our schools be?

October 12, 2018

The question of closing some of  our underutilized schools has been discussed recently among the commentators.

That raises the question, how many students should the schools be built to accommodate?

We evidently currently have schools that are operating with far fewer students than the schools were designed to handle and as a result are being considered for closure.

Let’s limit the question to our elementary schools for purposes of discussion of this post.

Should the schools be designed to limit the need for buses to carry the children who live more than two miles away from the school to it?

Or should the elementary schools be large and thus potentially enjoy the economic advantages of scale?

Texas does not require our school districts to provide transportation to and from school.  They will however provide financial assistance to school districts that provide transportation as long as the students live two or more miles from the school.

We deserve better

Brutus


Its over

October 10, 2018

We recently endured a contentious process that culminated in the confirmation of a new supreme court justice.

Will we see as a result a more energized electorate in the November election?

Will the tactics used by each side backfire and cause their opponents to galvanize?

I can point to one thing for certain–every vote counts.

We deserve better

Brutus


Consolidating the school districts

October 5, 2018

City council met in special session Monday, October 1, 2018.

The agenda indicates that they plan to discuss and take action on council’s legislative agenda with the state.

One of the items to be considered is:

That ought to ruffle some feathers at the school districts.

We deserve better

Brutus


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