January congressional candidate forums

January 11, 2018

This came in from Xavier Miranda:


Subject: El Paso Grassroots–Congressional Candidate Forums in January


Hi, just a reminder that you’re receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in El Paso Grassroots. Don’t forget to add xmiranda5@gmail.com to your address book so we’ll be sure to land in your inbox!

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January Congressional Candidate Forums

Dear Xavier,

Local campaigns are now underway, with Early Voting starting on February 19. Of particular significance is Texas’ 16th Congressional District race, which features high-profile candidates, of which one will face the daunting task of representing El Paso during these turbulent times in Washington DC.
So far the issues of immigration reform, climate change, renewable energy, labor issues, health care, foreign and economic policy, and education have largely been overlooked in favor of political gamesmanship.
However, the opportunity to interact with grassroots advocates at our community-based forums will provide the candidates insight to local efforts, and help them formulate legislation that best serves all members of our local and global community.
  • West Side Democrats of El Paso Primary Candidates Forum
    • Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2018
    • Time: 6:15 PM
    • Place: Galatzan Recreation Center (650 Wallenberg DR)
  • El Paso Grassroots/DSA of El Chuco Congressional Candidate Forum
    • Date: Saturday, February 17, 2018
    • Time: 10 AM to 12 noon
    • Place: Armijo Library (620 E. 7th AV
Your attendance and engagement is kindly requested at the upcoming forums
Regards,
Xavier Miranda
El Paso Grassroots
El Paso Grassroots, PO Box 221353, El Paso, TX 79913

City loses refinancing options

January 10, 2018

According to this slide from the recent special presentation to city council the new feral tax law will limit the city’s ability to issue tax refunding bonds:

In prior years the city had the ability to issue tax refunding bonds to purchase old bonds that had unfavorable interest rates.  In short, when the cost of bonds went down the city could buy new bonds and use the money to refund old bonds thus lowering the annual interest costs.

Unfortunately the city often used the opportunity to make the new bonds expire later than the existing bonds.  They were kicking the can down the road so that they did not have to pay off the principal on the original bonds.

Before the new law the city could evidently use this trick whenever they felt that interest rates justified the action.

Evidently under the new law they will only be able to do this within a window 90 days before the published call date for the original bonds.  According to the chart above the call date on bonds is typically 10 years after the bonds were issued.

Bond interest costs fluctuate.  The city will now only be able to use refunding bonds 9 3/4 years after the bonds are issued.  Interest rates might be higher or lower at that time.

This will have a significant impact on the city budget.

The spendthrifts on this and prior councils have put us in a box.

We deserve better

Brutus


EPISD–public facility corporation

January 9, 2018

These minutes from the EPISD administrative public facility corporation show that the district still intends to use the corporation to build the new central office:

The public facility corporation was created by the board of managers which was then headed by our current mayor.

Don’t worry about the cost–we can’t do anything about it.  The corporation has the power to issue bonds without voter approval.

If you are curious about the “summary of the project” that was presented, don’t bother to look.  The district does not post the agenda material for this special group’s meetings.

We deserve better

Brutus


City briefing on increasing bond costs

January 8, 2018

City council is going to have another one of its “special” meetings Monday, January 8, 2018.

The city says they are special because they are not part of the regularly scheduled Tuesday meetings.

We think that they are special because they are not held in the regular city council meeting room and the video tapes of the meetings are seldom posted on the city’s website.  It looks to us that they hold these meetings to do things that the public is not made aware of.

This meeting will consider two special items.  One of them is a briefing for city council members on the impact of the recent tax legislation passed in Washington.

The effect of the legislation will be to make bonds more expensive to El Pasoans.

Remember that the city has yet to issue over $450 million of bonds that were authorized in the 2012 bond election.  This shows the breakdown.

We don’t expect the city will tell us how much this is going to cost us anytime soon.

We deserve better

Brutus

 


School districts encouraged not to maintain buildings

January 7, 2018

Unfortunately state law encourages school districts to avoid maintenance on buildings until they reach the point where they have to be replaced.

Locally the districts have had us  paying for the new buildings by taking on debt through bond issuances.

School districts are allowed to set two different property tax rates.

The first is known as M&O (maintenance and operations) with the second commonly called I&S (interest and sinking fund).  Bonds are paid for out of I&S taxes.

If our numbers are correct the state has placed a cap (maximum) on the M&O rate at $1.50 per hundred dollars of property valuation and has capped the I&S rate at fifty cents per hundred dollars of property valuation.

If the districts were to properly maintain our buildings the costs would have to come out of the M&O funds.  When they ignore maintenance and end up having to build a new building they get to use I&S funds.

Last year EPISD’s M&O rate was $1.07 per hundred and their I&S rate was twenty-four cents per hundred.  Remember that this was before the new bonds have been issued.  The I&S rate will go up when they are issued.

We deserve better

Brutus


Better than perfect (at least in their own minds)

January 6, 2018

During the city’s budget presentations for fiscal year 2018 this chart was presented:

Take a look at the 911 calls answered within 15 seconds.

Somehow in 2015 they were able to answer 123.46% of them within 15 seconds.  We aren’t smart enough to figure how they did that other than maybe they answered a bunch of them twice.

In 2016 they wasted less time and only answered 119.47% of them within 15 seconds.

At the time the presentation was made they dropped down to 90.14%

Do they ever read their own stuff?

We deserve better

Brutus

 


EPISD–bidding

January 5, 2018

In the middle of the EPISD construction bidding mess is an unfortunate fact.

The district had to bring in a lawyer to clean up the district’s bidding process.

What does that tell us about what has been going on now for years?

We deserve better

Brutus


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