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County pursues litigation as city of Socorro pursues annexation

By Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
Published On: Feb 11 2013 10:31:08 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:03:16 PM CST

ABC-7s Matthew Smith reports.

SOCORRO, Texas -

El Paso County commissioners say talks between them and Socorro city leaders are positive, but litigation will be pursued nonetheless because of a continued push to annex county land.

County Attorney Joanne Bernal, and other attorneys, spoke with commissioners for more than an hour behind closed doors. The executive session covered a number of lawsuits, including litigation aimed to stop the city of Socorro from annexing parts of El Paso County. After coming back into a public setting, Bernal said litigation would be pursued.

"We're going to pursue legal options to pursue stopping the city of Socorro from proceeding with their annexation plans," said Bernal. "That is not to say that the county of El Paso will not continue to negotiate with the city of Socorro, because they will, we will negotiate in good faith."

County Judge Veronica Escobar elaborated on those comments. She said talks involving Commissioner Vince Perez and herself were positive. But an agreement has yet to be made, and the judge said there is really only one outcome that would stop a court hearing.

"Just pull the (annexation) and let the legal things work themselves out," said Escobar.

According to Escobar, the county attorney has told Socorro's legal counsel that this matter will only cost the city of Socorro taxpayer money. Commissioners are urging the city leaders of Socorro to avoid that type of burden for taxpayers.

At issue is whether Socorro city representatives have legal standing to make decisions for voters. Legal issues remain unresolved, including the fact that terms were extended by city representatives while they were in office. The county continues to state that annexation is an important issue, and if there are questions about whether the people behind an annexation movement have a right to make those decisions ,nothing should be rushed.

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