EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso City Council begins budget work sessions today and city officials are budgeting for over $1 billion in the 2022 fiscal year.
Among major budgeting items on Tuesday, the El Paso City Council is considering an issuance of $96 million in certificates of obligation, or non-voter approved debt, for various construction efforts. In a 6-2 vote, the council decided to move forward with the issuance. A public hearing will be held on August 24 for the public to weigh-in.
The city is expecting to receive $124 million in general and non-general fund revenues from the aviation, economic development and international bridges departments. And, from Destination El Paso. The city’s planning and inspections department expects to bring in nearly $8 million in non-general fund revenues.
City budgets are accounting for some reductions in spending for several services in both general and non-general fund balances. One of the most notable reductions in expenses comes from nearly $2 million in international bridges compared to fiscal year 2021’s budget.
Budgeting for fiscal year 2022 includes adjustments for a tax rate freeze, though there are extra revenues expected to come from rises in property valuations. The council approved more tax exemptions for seniors and the disabled, earlier this year.
Preliminary budgeting anticipates large expenses in public safety, quality of life and governmental infrastructure with a reduction in communications and sound governance. Increases in quality of life and public safety spending has been driven by the initiated spending for projects deferred during the global pandemic.
Budgetary effects from public safety include: collective bargaining commitments, two police academies, three fire academies, 911 communications staffing, $1.2 million for the Crisis Intervention Team, $7.8 million for capital replacements and $404,000 for data storage of body cameras.
The city’s early budgeting figures include nearly $162 million for police, $123 million for fire crews, and $5.3 million for municipal court, which are a 4.9 increase from last year. In total, public safety departments account for $290.5 million in general fund expenses.
Infrastructure costs total $49.5 million , a $7.7 million increase from last year’s totals.
The city also has a proposed $180 million capital plan for next year, which looks to improve public safety, health and street investments. Overall, the city has made an investment of nearly $1.4 billion in infrastructure projects.
The capital plan looks to design and construct a new headquarters and training area for police and fire personnel. Funds would also pay for the remodeling of the existing public health and safety facilities and to the animal shelter.
Plans would also pay for lighting projects on Airport Road, Vista Del Sol Drive, Pebble Hills Boulevard, Sunland Park Drive, Shadow Mountain Drive, West Wind Drive, Redd Road and Executive Center.
City officials say the plan would also support reconstruction projects on Railroad Drive, Ted Houghton Drive and Brian Ray Circle. The funds would also pay for sports flat fields at the Beast Urban Park, improvements at Grandview, Nolan Richardson, Pavo Real, Seville and Veterans parks and recreation centers.
The funds would also support the plans to build the proposed Mexican American Cultural Center.