As previously reported by us, the University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC) is lobbying the county commissioners to allow them to issue $346 million in non-voter approved certificates of obligation to be funded by the taxpayers of El Paso. Certificates of obligation do not require voter approval. County commissioners authorized the required public notification that they were considering on issuing the public debt on June 27, 2022. The commissioners tasked UMC officials with informing the community about why the debt was needed. UMC recently launched a website explaining the need for the voter-funded debt. As we have reported previously there have been several rumors of petition drives being circulated to force UMC to seek voter approval for the debt. One rumored leader of a possible petition drive is Vince Perez.
Perez filed an Assumed Name Certificate for El Paso Petition Drive to Oppose Property Tax Increase. As of yet we not seen any indication that Perez’ group is collecting signatures, however, we are aware of at least one version of the petition that has been circulated.
However, in addition to Perez filing an assumed name certificate, another entity was also formed on July 14. According to an Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer By A Specific-Purpose Committee form filed with the county clerk’s office, a special purpose committee was created intending to collect signatures against UMC’s request for non-voter approved funds.
Former city representative Michiel Noe, an obstetrics and gynecologist at the Sun City Women’s Health Care clinic, has been appointed the treasurer of the El Paso Coalition for Responsible Government (EPCRG). The EPCRG is a Specific-Purpose Committee. Specific-Purpose Committees allow organizers to raise and spend money to elect a candidate or support a public measure, or defeat a candidate or a public measure.
According to the public filing, the El Paso Coalition for Responsible Government “will circulate and submit petitions protesting the issuance of certificates of obligation by El Paso County and is seeking to compel an election on the issuance of certificates of obligation set forth in the July 7, 2022, public notice authorizing the acquisition, construction, or expansion of medical facilities in El Paso County.”
On July 7, 2002, UMC published is official intention to issue the certificates of obligations in the newspaper. Because of that, it is clear that EPCRG is or will be collecting petition signatures to stop UMC from issuing the non-voter approved debt. It is unknown if any signatures have been collected yet. It is also unclear if Vince Perez and Michiel Noe are working together on the effort. As this is a developing story, El Paso News will continue to investigate and report as more information becomes available.
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