EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – El Paso County Commissioners agreed to postpone any action on the County hospital district’s notice of intent for nearly $346 million worth of Certificates of Obligation.

University Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Jacob Cintron presented the El Paso County Hospital District’s proposal to commissioners on Thursday during a special meeting.

UMC is looking to expand and improve its services to include:

  • Expansion of Critical Care Bed Capacity
  • Surgery and Interventional – Hospital and Ambulatory
  • Neighborhood Health Center – Central
  • Children’s Inpatient, Surgery, and Emergency Department Growth
  • Cancer Center

The notice of intention states a principal amount for these projects would not exceed $400 million.

Taxpayers, if approved, would see an annual impact of $55.40 per year for the first 10 years, which is $4.62 monthly on a home valued at $100,000. So for example, for homes valued at $200,000, the values would be doubled.

Taxpayers would then pay around $2.28 a month or $27.40 annually in property taxes for a home valued at $100,000 for years 11-25.

However, the average home in El Paso County is valued at around $148,000 so that would mean around $6-7 monthly.

This constitutes about a 21 percent year-over-year tax increase, the largest one-year increase in county history.

Cintron said if approved, the total debt service will be over $1 billion.

County commissioners said they wanted to see more community outreach before deciding if they would approve the certificates of obligation.

The certificates of obligation do not need voter approval, however, Commissioners’ approval is needed.

Commissioners also asked Cintron if a general obligation bond would be an option, which requires voter approval since it would impact taxpayer dollars.

Cintron said going with a GO could be more expensive on the taxpayers in the long run because of rising interest rates.

However, he added the county hospital district would go back and reevaluate the values since the numbers they had presented were from May and they are expected to increase given the higher interest rates.

Commissioner David Stout said while he wants to see more community engagement, he does see a need for the projects the hospital district is proposing.

For her part, Commissioner Iliana Holguin said she wanted to hear from the public because of the amount of money it would cost.

Commissioner Carlos Leon said he also saw the need for a cancer center in the area, but also wanted to hear more feedback from the community and Commissioner Carl Robinson said while he understood the need for public outreach, he didn’t want to risk lives by waiting another year.

County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said he wanted to at least start the formal process and said it needs to be addressed as soon as possible, whether they go forward with the decision or not.

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