Amazingly, the water utility’s response to the flooding in El Paso is a request for more of your money. My friends in other cities sometimes ask me if I make this stuff up. The fact is that as rich as my imagination is I couldn’t dream up the incompetence that is El Paso. Just last month the city imposed a water franchise fee on business water users to shore up the city’s deficits and proclaim they did not raise taxes. Although, as you all know a fee is another tax pretending it is not. Now, when the PSB should be answering why it cannot curtail flooding in the city they, instead demand more money from the taxpayers.

On Tuesday, city council asked the PSB to explain why El Paso continues to flood. The PSB, through former city employee now Vice President of the PSB, Alan Shubert gave the city council a presentation about why it was not at fault for the most recent flooding at the city.

As many of you remember when the city was imposing the storm water fee on the community, many of the proponents kept pointing to the unprecedented flooding in 2006 as a “100-year storm”. The argument being that the city needed to be prepared for the next 100-year storm. Additionally, the argument was that the drainage infrastructure in the city had been neglected for too many years. The storm water fee would resolve both of those issues was the argument.

On Tuesday the PSB started out by arguing that the 2006 “water event” was the result of 6.85 inches of rainfall. Shubert argued that through September 2014 the annual rainfall was 7.36 inches, thus excusing the most recent flooding as beyond their control. As with anyone attempting to obscure the reality with overly detailed technical misdirection, Shubert added, the “events from April 2014 through September 2014” were beyond the “100-year event”. Misdirecting was the name of the game for Shubert.

After a self-serving presentation about the “good” work the PSB is doing Shubert got into the details about how taxpayer funds are being used. Keep in mind that the whole presentation was designed to mitigate criticism about the PSB’s handling of the flooding, hide the problems with the storm water fees and set up the community discussion about the upcoming fee increases.

According to Shubert, the PSB has collected “approximately $16 million annually” from the fees that are taxes in disguise. Shubert pointed out that the original plan was to have a budget of $22 million a year from the fees. However, Shubert stated that the fees were reduced, after much community outcry and that the city mandated that 10% of the fees be allocated to open spaces. Imagine that! There was much community outcry to the fees. The rates were reduced for the school districts and nonprofits as well.

Shubert then told city council that he would be presenting the PSB board a proposal to raise the storm water fees in the next four years. Before council could react to the announcement Shubert, in true political deflection mode moved to his gimmick. Last Wednesday, true to his word, Shubert presented to the PSB a plan to increase storm water fees by $2 a month, or 8%. This is on top of the franchise fees the city has recently imposed on businesses.

What Shubert needed was a gimmick to refocus the message away from the failures of the PSB and the upcoming rising fees towards we need this for our safety. He brought up the woman that lost her life in the latest floods and asked city council for help in getting the “safety” message out. City council fell for it. Instead of questioning the request for increased fees it instead focused on the death and the need to take care of the taxpayers of the community.

Make no mistake, some at city council may have wanted to hold the PSB accountable but what the community got in return was a plea for more fees.

As El Paso continues to recover from the latest flooding, the city, through its proxy the PSB, is looking to see how to tax you more with additional “fees”. Unfortunately, expect your water fees to go up by another $2.00 a month. The next time the city floods, it won’t be the 100-year storm, or the 150-year storm but the 1,000-year storm. I’m sure that’ll be worth an additional $5.00 a month to the PSB.

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...

12 replies on “Water Utility Wants You to Pay More”

  1. Who’s the idiot who will defend this one? Please, I want to know! I can’t wait to see who will post the comment.

  2. Isn’t this Shubert dude the same one who oversaw all those cost overruns at the ballpork? That is, until our resident drama queen Niland reamed him because she decided to feign outrage before the cameras that day. He quit shortly after. Point being, his competence seems to have a questionable track record or maybe he just likes to be a martyr for big “loss” causes.

  3. I guess we aren’t going to let the facts get in the way here. The PSB has a plan to alleviate the flooding that has occurred at least twice in the last 8 years. They have identified the solutions and to no one’s surprise except yours, those solutions actually cost money. Certainly your argument against the increased fees is not to do nothing and allow the flooding to continue? It’s okay to complain about the proposed solution but at least have an alternate plan that involves more than doing nothing. If your argument is the money spent in the past was not well spent then where would you like to have seen it spent? I just don’t think the argument can be as simple as they collected money in the past to fix the problem, the problem reoccurred and therefore was not fixed and now they want additional money and that must be wrong. The future projects needed to alleviate the flooding have been identified along with a time line to start & complete the projects. When did the PSB say the projects were completed and announce El Paso would no longer have any more flooding? If it were your house flooded, I doubt Peppers would be calling these vanity projects. But then Peppers doesn’t even live here! So let’s get after it Vegas, other than name calling, let’s hear more than a 3rd Grade argument as to why the PSB is wrong to ask for additional money to complete projects that were already in the pipeline & resolve the flooding which is obviously still occurring.

  4. Ah, yes, there he is–Ken. As expected.

    “Thank you, sir. May I have another?! Thank you, sir. May I have another?!”

    “Stormwater” fees should be spent on the STORMWATER problem. Shouldn’t we agree on that at least?

  5. Oh, and Ken, I WAS flooded. It doesn’t even have to rain that hard to get flooded. It’s not a matter of pumps or buying up property or any of that. It’s just a lack of drainage. Oh, but let’s not let facts get in the way.

  6. “Just last month the city imposed a water franchise fee on business water users”. It’s not the business users that were imposed a franchise fee it was residential rate payers, $1.10/month. They wanted to put a franchise on fee on business but this proposal was thrown out, for the mean time. Here’s a summary on your water bill for the regular working class El Pasoan:
    Stormwater fee
    Environmental fee
    Franchise fee
    Water usage
    Solid Waste fee

  7. Hey Vegas, when did I ever suggest stormwater fees should be spent on projects other than stormwater problems? Sorry to hear your house was flooded, but if it doesn’t have to rain very hard for that to happen and you have already identified it is a drainage problem, then you are more than half way to a resolution. It’s called spending your own money to slope the ground away from your home dumbass!! Get to work on it right now and stop waiting for a government handout to do what you already have determined needs done! Looks like 3rd Grade was giving you too much credit.

  8. Martin:
    This message could be posted in several of your articles.
    My mortgage company, who by the way are thieves, have increased by escrow account with some kind of “special” assessment. Do you think that the “yay” politicians can now pitch in?

  9. Ken, you are an idiot. You don’t know the details of the property. I don’t expect anyone to fix a problem on my property. The problem is the street. The property does slope away, but when it can’t go into the street because it has become a river, at that point it has nowhere to go until the water from the street has drained. Yes, you proved that yes you are an idiot–an idiot who jumps to conclusions.

    The truth is our stormwater fees are not all going to fix the stormwater problem. And yes, when I’m asked to pay for a service and the service is not rendered, I am going to be angry as hell. At that point I DO expect someone else to fix the problem–the entity that I paid to fix it!!!

    Ken, you are a chump who just accepts what he is told. It’s either that or you are just a mothpiece for those who continue to lie.

  10. Vegas – wasn’t much of a leap to figure out you are just stupid. You continue arguing with me even though I have agreed with you that the fees collected should be applied toward resolving stormwater problems. So buy some Flood Insurance and shut up!

  11. Ken, I wonder if you go to the store and when it’s time to pay, you say, “You didn’t charge me enough, please charge me more!”

    As I said, you assume too much. Many of us in the neighborhood have flood insurance. However, there are things called deductibles. They’re funny things in that you have to constantly pay for them if you are making claims. When you make claims, they go up. If you don’t make a claim, you just pay someone to come clean or extract water. That’s always fun when you are still paying stormwater fees that only increase.

    Funny how the fools like Ken just can’t admit when they are wrong. What a fool. What an imbecile.

Comments are closed.