The politicians continue to rally around the notion that El Paso is on a renaissance ignoring the obvious signs of economic distress. In yesterday’s post, I shared with you how city council is actively glossing over the signs of the economic tsunami that is building up. Pretending that the bad economic indicators do not exist is the only thing left for the politicians, especially those facing an election in May. As I watched the city council meeting from 1,700 miles away; I could distinctly feel Tommy Gonzalez’ growing frustration with the politicians who forget that they cannot get Cadillac service at a Yugo dealership. Gonzalez clearly understands that there is not enough money to pay for the utopia city council is trying to build and it clearly shows in his demeanor.
In yesterday’s post, I neglected to share with you an important economic metric especially when it relates to taxes. RealtyTrac reports that in January, foreclosure filings for El Paso significantly jumped from December. According to the data provided by the housing data company, El Paso foreclosure activity was the highest in January since at least April of the previous year.
The data company reports that El Paso has a higher foreclosure rate than the rest of the state. As a matter of fact, the foreclosure rate for El Paso continue to rise.
It is no secret that the majority of the taxes contributed to the city coffers come from property owners. Most everyone understands that El Paso’s tax rates are among the highest in the nation. I have written numerous times how there is no real economic plan in place to create new sources of income for the taxing entities. Instead of developing a plan, the city government entities are embarking on placing even more debt resulting in even higher taxes.
As you know, the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) bypassed the taxpayers and created a dubious corporation to float bonds to build their new administration palace, in their minds a building. What is important to note is that the Board of Managers clearly understand that the taxpayers are not about to give them the money to build a building they have no need for. If you look closely at the members that make up the Board of Managers you will clearly see where the idea to bypass the taxpayers came from. They learned it from the Joyce Wilson school of creating a taxpayer-funded company to bypass taxpayer accountability. The ballpark was built with the help of a dubious tax vehicle that bypasses any control by the taxpayers of the community. This is the same vehicle the EPISD will be using.
Let’s understand how this bypassing of the taxpayers works. Normally, the school district makes a list of new schools to build or that need to be repaired. They then create a budget and ask the voters for approval to proceed. In essence, the voters agree to be taxed for the work that is proposed. What the Board of Managers is doing is bypassing the permission to spend taxpayers’ monies while forcing the taxpayers to pay for it. Basically, it’s like me holding you at gunpoint and demanding you buy me some coffee at Starbucks. I deserve it to keep me awake to write this but it doesn’t give me the right to bypass asking you to feed my caffeine cravings.
The EPISD Board of Managers just put a gun to the taxpayers’ heads and told them to pay up for a palace from where they can lord over the taxpayers. Oh sure, there are all sorts of excuses about how urgent the whole thing is and why this is the way to go. There, of course, is the obligatory fuzzy math about how it will all equal out for the taxpayers in the end. Does this remind you of something that happened recently? I’m sure it does.
But it gets even worse for the taxpayers. EPISD has already warned you that it needs a significant amount of money, almost a Billion, yes with a “B” to close schools down and repair others. The Board of Managers realized they will never get the support for a Billion dollars in debt so they bypassed you for their palace and decided to let the incoming elected trustees to force the bond upon you.
The incoming trustees, led by Susie Byrd, are already positioning the bond election for November on the notion that the community does not want schools closed but that the children deserve the best schools possible and therefore we need to spend money. You may not be voting in May to allow EPISD to issue bonds but you surely will in November. That is, of course, if the incoming trustees haven’t figured out a way to bypass you with some other “corporation” scam. Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria may be on her way out but another Joyce Wilson devotee, Susie Byrd is on her way in.
As if that wasn’t bad enough consider Ysleta Independent School District’s (YISD) announcement that they will be asking the voters to approve $442.5 million in bonds for school repairs. At least they are going to the voters. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. In fact, it is only starting.
As you know, next week the county commissioners are supposed to vote on how to deal with the money that the El Paso Children’s Hospital owes you, the taxpayers. Make no mistake; the money that the children’s hospital owes is your money. Now this is where it gets interesting.
Notice how EPISD used a dubious corporation to bypass the taxpayers for their administration palace they are building for themselves. This is very similar to the way the El Paso Children’s Hospital is set up. It is a private company able to avoid having to respond to open records requests yet having the right to use taxpayer monies to build its own palace and owe you, the taxpayer, money as well.
Instead of dissolving the failed entity, the county commissioners are likely to vote on some convoluted plan to keep the hospital a perpetual drain on the taxpayers instead of doing the responsible thing. What happens when you fail to make your car payment? The bank comes by, takes the car back, and sells it to pay off what you owe.
Why can’t the taxpayers do the same thing with the hospital that has failed to make payments to you? Because it does not fit, the plan that is in place to feed the machinery that is driving El Paso into economic doom. On Monday, I’ll be sharing with you what the end game is for all of these tax shenanigans and the other ones yet to become public. I’ll also show you how the machine draining your pockets works.