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Newly incorporated San Elizario prepares for next steps

By Collin Carroll, Collin Carroll, collin.carroll@kvia.com
Published On: Nov 12 2013 11:39:58 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:56:27 PM CST

San Elizario is coming off a big win. But after voting to incorporate last week, residents and officials still have a lot of work ahead.

EL PASO, Texas -

San Elizario is coming off a big win. But after voting to incorporate last week, residents and officials still have a lot of work ahead, officials said Tuesday.

It was a battle for control of municipal funds. But critics of incorporation now wonder how the new city will sustain itself without breaking taxpayers' backs.

"One of the concerns of the community is that we keep our taxes as low as possible," said San Elizario Incorporation Group President Maya Sanchez.

No word yet on an official rate. The city could hold a City Council election as early as January, Sanchez said.

"Newly incorporated cities of around our size, what they've been able to put in place," Sanchez said.

Anthony, N.M., went with a volunteer Council at its outset more than three years ago. The first year is all about passing the right ordinances, said Anthony Mayor Arnie Castaneda.

"Having control over those funds that might go to a neighboring community, now they are coming here," Castaneda said.

Services like water, sewage, road maintenance, law enforcement, etc., likely wouldn't change for San Elizario, according to El Paso County officials. The city would just create an agreement with the county to keep using those services.

"Basically all the utilities that service our new city, they’ll have to pay a certain percentage that will go into the pot of what will be city funding," Sanchez said.

Sanchez said she's concerned about attracting businesses to bolster the tax base, especially tourism in the farming community. But growth won't be sustainable, she said, without improved transportation infrastructure.

San Elizario will now qualify for both rural and municipal state grants, Sanchez said. The Type A General Municipality will have five aldermen, plus one more -- whoever receives the most votes will be dubbed mayor.
     
"As much as my community will allow, I want to be involved in that process," Sanchez said. "I've helped bring it to this place. I can't just pass it off and let go of it."

County Commissioners Court will meet Monday to officially declare San Elizario a city.

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