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City asks Austin judge to weigh in on ballpark

Published On: Jan 17 2013 08:09:55 PM CST
Updated On: Aug 04 2014 08:37:34 PM CDT

Reporter: Maria Garcia

The city of El Paso is asking a judge in Austin to weigh in on the legality of all ballpark issues.

As ABC-7 reported last week, city officials are going to try to prove voters gave the city a mandate to tear down city hall and build a ballpark when they approved Proposition 3 in November.

"The voters have a reasonable expectation that the project is going to be delivered the way they approved it or the way they understood it to be delivered," City Attorney Sylvia Borunda-Firth told ABC-7 in an interview last week.

The process is called a "bond validation lawsuit."

The city will argue that voters overwhelmingly approved the designation of the ballpark as a "Venue Project," a legal classification that allows the city to finance the project without tapping into the general fund. In this case, voters approved raising the Hotel Occupancy Tax by 2% to finance the ballpark, but that's not the only thing  El Pasoans approved, said Borunda-Firth.

"It's the budgeted amount, it's the location, where it's going to be, the people expected (it) to be downtown, at city hall.  It was all spelled out for the voters, what we planned to do so they didn't technically approve it, but voters have an expectation we're going to deliver it that way," she said.

The motion was was filed Monday in Travis county, where the city says judges are more experienced with this type of expedited procedure.

The judge will also review the city's plans to sell bonds to pay for the ballpark.

If the judge rules the city has crossed its "Ts" and dotted its "Is" as the city hopes, the ruling could help the city dismiss the citizen petitions that are trying to block the demolition of city hall.

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