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El Paso County residents can expect tax hikes

By Rick Cabrera, Anchor, rickcabrera@yahoo.com
Published On: Oct 31 2012 11:22:59 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 07:05:39 PM CST
Money
EL PASO, Texas -

The city's consolidated tax office collects taxes for 37 local governments. 

Twenty-four of them opted to toe the line on a tax increase. Five chose to reduce your taxes: The average homeowner within the Anthony ISD will see a $13 drop.
    

If you pay property taxes to El Paso Community College you'll save around $.90.

Within the Tornillo ISD the average homeowner will pay $.60 less.    

Two water districts also cut their rates. Seven other taxing entities choose to raise taxes.   

For those living where the city of Socorro, the Socorro ISD and El Paso County overlap, it's created a triple whammy.   

Starting with the city of Socorro, the average home value there is $80,000.

So, the average homeowner will go from paying $398 in 2011 to $453 in 2012.  That's a difference of $55.

Socorro Resident Raul Candelaria Jr. believes he is already paying too much in taxes.

  "Our city council always appears to be bickering about other issues and worry about the residents of Socorro being hammered with these taxes."

The tax hike will give the city about a million and a half more dollars to improve the quality of life in undeveloped areas.

When the increase was approved, city Rep. Jesse Gandara Junior said only a few are against investing in the community.

"I really believe that they do not speak for the majority of Socorro."     

Next up, the County of El Paso.

The average home in the county is valued at $117,000. That means the average homeowner there will pay $56  more in property taxes this year.  In 2011 that homeowner paid $425 and will pay $481 in 2012.

After holding the line on taxes over the last five years, even cutting the rate once, County Judge Veronica Escobar pushed for the increase, citing the need to give county employees their first raises in four years, pay for $110 million worth of bonds, meet its obligation to the Sheriff's Office as part of the collective bargaining agreement and pay for future capital investments, including patrol cars.

Escobar told us, "Every decision you make has a consequence.  So we can not fund the Sheriff fully and not have as many deputies on patrol or we can not fund our collections department and then not be collecting as much revenue."

But, the biggest increase this year will be felt by homeowners in the Socorro ISD where the tax hike will be used for maintenance, salaries and supplies.

Socorro Assistant Superintendent Pat O'Neil told us the district didn't really have a choice.

"In the last two years we've lost $21 million from the state and federal government so we had to go back to our voters."

The average home in the district is valued at $108,000.

So, for those homeowners their property tax bill of $1,318 in 2011 will rise to 1,388 in 2012.  That's an increase of $70.     

"One of the things a lot of people don't realize is that when we went up 3 cents in our tax rate those are called golden pennies," O'Neil said.  "The reason they are called golden pennies is because the state gives us an additional $6 million because we raised our tax rate.  So, we got double bang for our dollar."

So, adding up all the increases, if you live within the boundaries of El Paso County, The Socorro ISD and The City of Socorro and own a home valued at 100-thousand dollars you'll be doling out approximately $175 more in property taxes this year.

And your total property tax bill is approximately $2,880.

The other taxing entities that raised taxes this year are the Fabens ISD, the Town of Clint, town of Anthony and city of Horizon.

One month after its deadline, one has yet to agree on a new budget.  That's the town of Vinton so we don't know what you'll pay.

As for the City of El Paso's three quality of life bonds, up for a vote Tuesday, according to the city's chief financial officer based on each $100,000 of your current property value you will see a $4.70 increase in 2015, $10.30 more than you pay now in 2016 and $15.40 in 2017.

That amount will increase gradually over the years to $62 by 2025 and go as high as $78.70 by 2030, the final year of the bonds.

Each of these numbers are based on what you pay now.

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