El Paso mayor vetoes City Council adoption of $96 million in non-voter approved debt

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City Council to discuss veto on Tuesday

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Mayor Oscar Leeser said he is vetoing a decision made by the El Paso City Council to issue nearly $100 million in non-voter approved debt that is expected to uplift projects.

The City Council approved its intention to issues $96 million in what are called certificates of obligation to support capital construction projects throughout the city in July. Earlier this week, the council voted on budgeting the debt to be used for the 2022 fiscal budget.

In February, the El Paso City Council also sought the issuance of a different set of certificates of obligations to pay for major quality of life projects, public infrastructure, public safety facilities and general upkeep of facilities. That issuance was set at $93 million.

“I veto this item knowing that over three-quarters of the City Council approved it, but with the strength and will of the 80 percent of El Pasoans that voted for me citywide with a mandate of fiscal responsibility,” Leeser said in a statement. “It is my sincere hope that my colleagues at City Council will work with me to manage our debt with more careful consideration of the effect of these long-term commitments on our community. I believe that we can find a mutually agreeable resolution, in which we accomplish what is needed for our city in a more measured manner that minimizes non-voter approved debt.”

City officials say Leeser did not veto the 2022 budget but topic is on the City Council’s agenda for Tuesday morning.

“The City is strategically managing our debt portfolio and executing the capital projects approved by the community and the Council in the most cost-efficient manner possible to minimize the impact to the taxpayer,” Robert Cortinas, the city’s chief financial officer said. “We welcome the Council’s direction on how best to move forward to address the City’s priorities regarding public safety, community health and street projects.”

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