From $1 billion to just over $413 million dollars. That’s the amount the City of El Paso is now looking at when it comes to proposals for the upcoming bond election.
City staff started off by focusing on five priorities for bond proposals including police, fire, streets, public health, and animal services.
“We’re working hard and are spending our dollars I think appropriately. But the taxpayers are tired of any increases,” Mayor Dee Margo said.
The city’s strongest focus and top priority though, has been public safety.
On Monday, City Council held a special meeting and went over three different bond proposition options. Council ultimately came down to a vote that would take streets, public health, and animal services out of the picture.
“The two primary most important items are a Eastside Regional Command center. We have no police out in our most populous growing area. That is a true public and life safety need. And in the Northwest, we need another fire station with EMS on Transmountain. That again is another life safety issue,” Mayor Margo explained.
Staff presented to council updated police and fire bond proposals that removed fleet and equipment needs such as radios, crime scene scanners, bomb suits, and more.
That dropped $178 million from the original public safety bond proposals.
“It’s not ideal. I would like everything that was put down on paper initially but I could live with that. It’s a lot far better than what we’re having to deal with right now,” Chief of Police Greg Allen commented.
City representatives Alexsandra Annello and Cassandra Hernandez suggested bringing back the original proposals including all of the public safety’s needs.
However, the rest of council voted to continue with those reductions.
“We as a city council, have not put any money into actual programs that would decrease crime. All we’ve put money into is police and police presence because we don’t have the money for it right,” Annello said, “We need to be able to get to that point so we can actually be making solutions for our community. But if the council isn’t going to give them the money to get to that point, we will never ever become the city that we should.”
Some of the current needs for public safety include building a new police headquarters, fire headquarters, and maintenance and/or renovation of existing facilities.
City council will also look at alternative revenue sources for streets in the 2020 bond election.
As for public health and animal services, that could potentially involve staff looking at certificates of obligation bonds.
City Council is expected to adopt an ordinance at a regular City Council meeting and call for an election on August 13th.