roosterhomeWhen I was learning English, I had a teacher that used to torture me with defining idioms. One of the idioms that gave me the most trouble was “the roosters have come to roost.” I don’t know why but I could not satisfy her demand that I define the phrase to her satisfaction. Of course, my attitude about “why would anyone want to learn a language that has no rules just a whole bunch of exceptions” didn’t help any. I know she would be shocked to learn that I blog in English today. I have been dying to use the idiom that haunted me so much in English and today, courtesy of the politicians at El Paso I get to use it.

As most of you have noticed, the roosters have come home to roost and unfortunately, that means your taxes will be going up. We have known all along that the public policy agenda of spending taxpayer monies on dubious “feel-good” projects without clearly planning for paying for them was going to lead to massive tax increases and decreased services for El Paso. I have been warning you about the impending taxes and fees that are facing you today.

Much to the chagrin of the city council, especially those running for reelection, city manager Tommy Gonzalez let loose the sad facts; there is just not enough revenues to pay for the projects the council had put in play without addressing how they were going to be paid. No sooner had Gonzalez exposed the truth that the rhetoric started to ooze out of the politicians mouths.

That is all the politicians have to offer, rhetoric.

Remember when the water franchise fee was being discussed at city council. The mayor and city council created the illusion that it was a fee being applied to businesses – that it was not a tax. The fallacy is that it is the taxpayers that pay the fee. The taxpayers are a captive consumer who have to pay the “fee.”

Unfortunately it is much more insidious then that. The Public Service Board (PSB) is a city department although the rhetoric proclaims that it is not. The mayor sits on the board of the PSB. The city controls the PSB.

The politicians knew that implementing a water franchise fee to forestall a tax increase during the last budget cycle would eventually be paid for by the taxpayers. They knew that the businesses would point out that the “fee” is a tax and it needed to be equitably spread out through all of the water consumers, also known as the taxpayers of the city. That reality did not fit the political rhetoric so the politicians created the illusion that it would be paid for by the businesses in order to keep the controversy in check, but they knew that eventually they would be forced to acknowledge that it would be paid for by the taxpayers through their water bills.

As with all rhetoric, the idea was to quiet the controversy in the hopes that the truth gets buried when it eventually emerges.

On August 27, 2014, I wrote “City Manager and Taxes” where I clearly laid out for you that Tommy Gonzalez knew that the public agenda of spending money the city does not have was a failure. Gonzalez told the El Paso Builders Association that he had “never met a community that wants this much and that considers wants as necessities.” Gonzalez added that he was seeing a “culture of wanting without regard to paying for it.”

Last Tuesday, Gonzalez’ original comments were once again validated by the city’s incompetent city council.

After receiving the facts that the city’s revenues were not enough to meet the expenditures, city council, instead of working to manage the shortfalls, jumped right into creating the fantasy they have been peddling all of these years.

According to Maria Garcia at KVIA (City of El Paso: Revenue not keeping with expenses; March 31, 2015), the mayor stated that the figures presented to council were “basically the worst case scenario without any improvement.” Leeser was referring to the report “not taking into consideration any growth in property tax, sales tax,” according to his statement attributed by Garcia.

Cortney Niland was quoted by Maria Garcia as stating that the figures did not take into account the “$53 million in new revenue in just downtown to the general fund (,) 3500 new jobs” and the “highest hotel occupancy taxes in the state.”

Gonzalez reiterate that the city’s revenue growth “is meager.” The fact is that the city will likely be millions of dollars short as the city begins to tackle a new budget in June.

What was not even acknowledged by the political rhetoric is that about a third of the city’s budget goes directly towards paying down debt. That debt service will continue to increase in the coming years as more bonds are floated to meet the 2012 Quality of Life requirements. That is assuming that the ballpark subsidies do not increase because of declining HOT taxes after the bowling tournament has left the city.

There are already strong indications that this is likely to happen as airport traffic continues to drop at the airport.

The current budget cycle was bolstered by a water franchise fee that was pushed forth as only for businesses but in reality, it is a fee you are all now paying. The sad fact is that there is just no room left to add more fees to the wallets of the El Paso taxpayers.

There has to be a drastic cut in expenses and an increase in taxes just to meet the commitments made by the current public policy driving El Paso to ruin.

As there is an election, city council will muster all of their political rhetoric to keep this discussion out the public realm for now. However, the facts are the facts and there is simply not enough new money coming into El Paso to meet the debt service.

Any creditor would call that a consumer on the verge of bankruptcy.

The roosters have come home to roost in El Paso.

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...

8 replies on “El Paso Taxes: The Roosters Have Come Home to Roost”

  1. This is a city that for some reason is ashamed of what it is. Thus the urgent need to rebuild it in the image of other cities. This city is very unique and has plenty of history that should be shared with the rest of America.

    The other problem is that El Paso is listed high on the list of worst “individual” credit ratings. So naturally , if people don’t care about their credit why should they be concerned about the city budget. These are the same people spend with the “I want it now ” mentality. When it should be “can we afford it” or let’s set some priorities. The council is no better than the residents, they walk around telling each other “it’s free money”. Then they see officials being dragged off for dipping their hands in the coffers.

    The one thing I didn’t understand, if air traffic is decreasing, except for an occasional bump, where did the logic come from when they decided to build a bigger rental car facility? The HOT deal is a joke. They tell you the Bowling people are here. True, but that is a temporary fix. Plus these people leave, they don’t stay for the whole tournament. And what do they see downtown? A park no one has been able to use for 18 months. An oversized flat screen that malfunctions with dirty hands. Oh yeah that’s really bringing the tourist ! Bulldozed historical buildings that has tourists asking why ? Some of these tourists want to see where Villa slept! Did anyone ever consider identifying all the houses where movie icons grew up? George Jefferson, Granny from the hillbillies, Stephen Speilberg, Clark Gable’s hotel, etc. The tourists love going into Segundo Barrio, it provides a “Chinatown” effect. What does the council do? Study how to destroy the area.

    The other joke was the excitement of having a toll road. Incredible that people would view that as a sign of entering the 21st century. Which brings me to something most of you don’t understand. People make a city not buildings. If you go on vacation, you want to see something different NOT a city that looks like your hometown ! So stop trying to look like other cities. Maybe the solution is to prohibit council members from leaving El Paso because when they do, the other city duplication process starts.

    Council, county and other entities stop and take a look at the wallets. People can’t continue to give you money. There is already a lot of foreclosures, people can’t pay ! Any real paying jobs, no. We are the cheap labor capital of the US. Surprise we live right across from workers that will accept low wages and no benefits. So even high salaries will not help except to increase jobs for the Border Crossers. Probably would return to the days of Mexican gardeners, maids, car washes, construction.

    El Paso get real, we’re like the old movie star that that hangs around the bar trying to get by on looks. People no longer come here because they can’t go to Juarez. We need to concentrate on what we do have and showcase the heritage. Let’s be honest after a facelift does the person really look good. The super stretched face that can’t smile, oversized lips and cat eyes. That’s what we done to beautiful El Paso. We destroyed it and no facelift will ever return it to the old days.

    The streets are terrible, so the solution is to paint lines. Would you buy a house that was freshly painted but had foundation problems? The Brio buses, another disaster, 99 % of the time it has a driver and maybe two passenagers. And it travels the same route as the older buses, that’s the solution ? And the trolley car, to borrow from an old commercial. Tacoroni, clang clang, the El Paso treat . Renovation of old cars, new tracks, new overhead electrical wiring and maintenance. Guarranteed to cost more than it takes in. Surprise, there’s a reason why they were dismantled. It was a losing proposition. I can’t get over the stupidity of having computerized trash cans. Of course this mentality fits in with the thinking, that in order to get out of debt, you must go into deeper debt

    Now do you get it ?

  2. Sad but true. Niland is the worst of the worst and, because she has no credible opposition, we will have to endure her bellowing for another 4 years. But boy do Paul and Woody love her because she is Miss Money Pockets for Woody World and the DTEP money pit.

    Right, too, on Segundo. It is the soul of the city. But they need more street food in the ‘hood.

    Time for Peppers to leave.

  3. Yeah…and a few days later EPISD (district in which I live) puts out their consolidation plan to save money… which will only cost another 200–600 million.

    Like I said in a previous posts, I am currently planning/working towards my goal of leaving El Paso. No way do I want to, nor could I afford to retire or want to spend my golden years here giving the city everything I had save up for retirement.

  4. The real solution is to get better qualified candidates to run for office. Since most of the positions pay very little, you must be retired and/or independently wealthy to run & hold office. Very few people can afford to live off those wages. Should we pay them more money to entice better people to run for office? Certainly by now we should realize if we keep doing the same thing we will continue getting the same result. We can do better than Carl Robinson & Lily Limon!

  5. The paper stated yesterday that they were making improvements around the ballpark! Anyone know how much this is going to add to the bill?!

  6. Its sad that this child has to represent el paso. The times should seek out people who help the city image , unlike this sorry journalist.

  7. Just an update>>> Got my property tax bill yesterday.
    My home value stayed the same, $145,000….but my taxes went up $105.00
    I pay $3725.00.

    $310.00 per month.

    That’s a car payment. That’s money I could be putting into a retirement account. Even if I just put half that into retirement and used the rest as disposable income, that is 3-4 more dinners in a local restaurant a month or some extra shopping.

    But no, I am giving this money so the city can continue to subsidize millionaires and billionaires business ventures or add art displays that have no ties to our local history and culture.

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