EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Former state representative and councilman Joe Pickett is suing the city of El Paso over the use of an environmental franchise fee to pay for street infrastructure and public safety costs.
Pickett filed the suit last October looking for monetary relief of $100,000 or less from fees collected through his water bill. The suit takes aim at whether the city has the authority to add on fees to utility services and justly use the revenue to pay for millions of dollars in public equipment.
Water bills incorporate charges related to providing waste and sewage services while also being a main mechanism for streets to be maintenance due to the wear-and-tear of the utility’s heavy vehicles riding on the road.
He claims nearly half of the over $10 million in revenue produced during the 2019 fiscal year from the fee could not be justly used under. City budgeting accounted for a $6.6 million in revenue from the fee to pay for residential street maintenance.
The revenue accounts for $4 million in the acquisition, replacement and major capital equipment for the El Paso Fire and Police Department.
“Even if the city could actually separately identify the costs of the “wear and tear on the city’s rights-of-way caused by the use of the city sanitation vehicles in providing the utility service” and somehow distinguish it from the costs of the wear and tear on the city’s rights-of-way caused by all other users, and we do not believe it can, it appears not to have even attempted to do so,” Pickett says in the suit.