As you all know back in 2006 El Paso experienced the so-called 100-year rainstorm that is only supposed to come about every century or so. As a result of the rains, many El Pasoans experienced significant flooding. Proclaiming that El Pasoans shouldn’t have to go through that again, city council imposed a new storm water fee on the water bill. Take a look at your next water bill and you will clearly see the storm water fee. It is this fee that Cortney Niland now wants to model her proposed fee for “expediting street repairs”.

However, as we have all come to expect from the city, there is a difference between what city council says it will use revenues generated by fees and debt to against what the money is actually used for in the end. The storm water fee costs the El Paso taxpayer between $1.40 to $5.94 depending on the square footage of the home’s “impervious area” is determined by the Central Appraisal District.

This is a monthly fee tacked on to the water usage and wastewater fees on your monthly water bill.

In 2007, the El Paso Water Utility promised the city’s residents that they would now focus on ensuring the city doesn’t flood again. Fast forward seven years later and the flooding continues.

Yesterday, El Paso’s freeway flooded again. I fully expect some of you to rationalize the flooding as a result of some unpredictable issue or because some dirt had been moved. However, and this is important, yesterday’s rains were not anywhere close to the 2006 century rains that was the impetus for the storm water fee to rectify the city’s flooding issues.

Yet, the freeway flooded again.

El Paso taxpayers have been paying a monthly storm water fee to mitigate the problem and yet the flooding remains.

Now Cortney Niland is trying to tax you again through adding a tax to your water bill in order to expedite street repairs. Niland tries to rationalize the tax as a fee to be used to mitigate El Paso’s street problems.

Weren’t monies already allocated to fix the streets?

Then why does Niland now need to “expedite” these repairs?

More importantly, once Cortney Niland gets her tax, disguised as a fee, will she later come back to the taxpayers and tell them that, oh our streets still need repairs, let’s add a fee to the trashcans you pay us for each month?

Do El Paso taxpayers really want to trust the city with another fee?

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “Flooding Niland’s Quest for More Money”

  1. While I agree with you on the fee, your example is off. The freeway flooding has nothing to do with the money spent by the city to fix drainage problems. You see, I-10 is TxDOT’s jurisdiction. The city has no way of affecting that problem.

  2. The freeway was closed because a concrete barrier (that TxDOT installed to protect workers constructing aesthetic improvements to the retaining wall) was moved by the force of the water in the rainstorm. The barrier’s new location blocked several lanes of traffic, which shut the whole freeway down temporarily. While it may not have been the sheer volume of the *week* of rain that caused the 2006 issues, it still was a formidable downpour, and had nothing to do with the drainage issues that have been taken care of thanks to the stormwater fee. The lack of an outlet in 2006 for the reservoir underneath the Spaghetti Bowl is what caused I-10 to have water covering the roadway for *days* in 2006.

  3. There were still many incidences of flooding throughout the city. El Paso still lacks proper drainage in many, many parts of the city.

    I have seen many people collecting sandbags here. Now though, rather than being able conveniently and quickly to go to your local fire station, you must go to the Water Utility on Fred Wilson in order to get a sandbag. This is really helpful when you see a flash flood warning on the news. Genius!

  4. It’s easy to figure out. Niland has pushed thru the Trolley project and now she’s increasing the “street repair” funds so there will be funds to tap into to maintain the trolley system once the $97 million is spent with her “business supporters” putting it in place. Taxpayers will be footing the trolleys’ ensuing bills. Niland is good at spending more than she’s got and even before she’s gotten it.

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