As expected, county commissioners approved University Medical Center of El Paso’s (UMC) notice to issue up to $400 million in non-voter approved certificates of obligations yesterday. Generally, the news media has reported that fact that the intent notice was approved by commissioners Carlos Leon, Carl Robinson and county judge Ricardo Samaniego. Commissioners Iliana Holguin and David Stout voted no on the publication of notice. However, two important things are missing from the news media’s reports. They are the legal requirements that now must happen and what it means to the voters, and the context of the public commentary offered by taxpayers in almost two hours of public comment.
The first issue is that although the intent of county commissioners is for UMC to make a public case for the non-voter approved certificates of obligations before coming back to commissioners on September 12, 2022, the fact is that the order approved by county commissioners yesterday does not have the requirement legally stipulated. The only two legally required steps before county commissioners vote on the item on September 12, 2022, is for UMC to publish two statements in the legal notices section of the El Paso Times. The first is in the next few days and the second is 30-days prior to the county commissioners voting on the $400 million certificates of obligations.
The second issue that is not addressed by the news reports is the context of what it means for El Paso voters if UMC issues the non-voter approved bonds.
There were about 16 speakers who signed up to speak before the county commissioners. After waiting for about two hours for UMC’s presentation to conclude about their need for the money, county commissioners recessed for what county judge Ricardo Samaniego said was going to be a fifteen-minute break. Commissioners returned almost 45 minutes later.
The comments portion of the meeting lasted almost two hours.
To make it easier for the voters to understand the context we have condensed the about two hours of community input at the commissioners meeting into a 22-minute video by selectively selecting portions of the public input we believe accurately represents both sides of the debate.
Readers interested in viewing the complete meeting can do so by using this link.
Yesterday’s vote brings the issuance of $400 million in non-voter approved bonds closer to fruition. Although the intent of county commissioners is to vote on them after they have heard from the taxpayers, there is no legally required mechanism that allows for this to happen. County commissioners could simply vote on the measure on September 12, 2022, if they so wished.
It is up to the voters to ensure that they participate in how they wish to proceed on this request.
Martín Paredes became a partner of Politico Campaigns, a political campaign management firm, in June 2022. The views and opinion expressed in our publication are those of Paredes and do not necessarily represent the views of the firm or its other partners. El Paso News is funded primarily by Paredes, in part by donations from readers and online advertisement. Politico Campaigns plays no role in our reporting. El Paso News has an open editorial policy encouraging any author to submit any article from any point of view for consideration to be published on El Paso News.