As budget discussions continue, the City of El Paso is looking at a proposed $24 million increase from its general fund and taxpayers may be the ones that end up paying more.
The City is trying to figure out how to come up with an extra $24 million needed for this coming year’s operating budget.
That $24 million increase means some taxpayers could see an increase of property tax rates of 4 cents.
According to staff, the increased costs are expected to address a number of citywide priorities.
This includes dedicating $4 million for fire and police equipment. In case you didn’t know, public safety makes up the large majority of city spending.
Also under consideration, operating costs for 19 additional quality of life projects, $7 million in dedicated funding for residential street projects, and $1.5 million each for facility improvements and sports complex enhanced maintenance.
The overall tax rate right now is 84 cents, so with the proposed increase, that would rise a little over 88 cents. Majority of the 4 cent increase would accommodate operations and maintenance. A little under one cent goes to debt services.
This means that on a $100,000 home, your taxes would go up around $64.
One option the City is thinking about is paying for some costs as they come up rather than setting aside money as part of long-range planning.
“We’re trying to limit the amount of debt and financing that we’re having to go out and do, and instead build it into the budget in an ongoing basis so that we can go out and do police car replacement, fire truck and ambulance replacement, address some of these big issues,” Robert Cortinas, Chief Financial Officer with the City of El Paso said.
Cortinas said without an increase, the community would see a substantial lack of services, “You’re basically going back to what was happening almost a decade ago. Not investing in your public safety the way you should be, not investing in your facilities the way you should be. Not doing the things that the community has basically committed us to with the quality of life projects that are being completed. Not doing the operating maintenance component to those projects so not staffing them properly. That’s where the city would make reductions in.”
City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said the current budget proposal is based in part by more than 2,200 Chime In El Paso! responses from citizens. That’s along having strategic budget advisories with youth, businesses, and neighborhood associations.
City officials said the certified tax rate is expected to be conducted on July 25th, following up with a special meeting on the 29th.