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City Council sets Quality of Life bond election items, date

By Darren Hunt, DHuntabc7@yahoo.com
Published On: Aug 15 2012 08:48:12 AM CDT
Updated On: Feb 12 2014 09:09:54 PM CST
EL PASO, Texas -

El Paso City Council voted on Tuesday to move forward with a bond election in November that would bring $468 million in additions and improvements to El Paso over the next 10 to 15 years.

But it also will raise your property taxes.

With all the backlash over the recent decision to build a ballpark on the current City Hall site, a decision that was not left up to the voters, one has to wonder whether El Pasoans will vote yes or no on November 6 to three bond election questions.

"Help us make this city an even greater city than it is right now," said T.J. Karam.

"We're at a fork in the road here in El Paso and we can choose to take the high road, the real vision of progress toward becoming a world class city, or we can take the low road," Jennifer Wright said.

"It's a game-changer and it will make us much more attractive and viable as a community," Mark Benitez said.

One after another, El Pasoans took to the podium during Tuesday's City Council meeting and advocated for the passage of a $468 million bond election broken down for voters into three different questions on the November ballot.

First, $240 million to improve our parks, recreation facilities, add open space and create new zoo exhibits. Among the rec improvements would be new pools and athletic fields. Voting for this would raise your property taxes just over $14 per $100,000 valuation of your home.

Secondly, you will be asked to approve an additional $228 million for museums, including a new children's museum, cultural centers, performing arts centers, including a new arena, and libraries. Voting for this part of the bond would increase your property taxes nearly $13 a year per $100,000 valuation of your home.

"The costs are concerning, but the consolation i get with this is that the voters will be the ones making the decision," City Rep. Eddie Holguin said.

Lastly, you will be asked to vote on whether to raise the hotel occupancy tax or HOT tax two percent, to 17-and-a-half percent, to finance the building of a $50 million Downtown ballpark. If passed, it would pay for about 72 percent of the construction.

"If you vote for the HOT tax, you're voting for out of towners to pay for the ballpark ... if you don't, you're going to pay for it, so it's pretty simple," said Tripper Goodman.

Holguin and Mayor John Cook both said they believe the backlash against the ballpark could be a big issue in the bond election.

If the HOT tax increase does not pass, City officials said the ballpark would still be built and be paid for by establishing a separate corporation, greatly increasing the cost of building the ballpark because a different type of debt would be issued.

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