Confusion over completion of Quality of Life projects

City representative questions why projects will not be finished sooner

EL PASO, Texas - City representative Cortney Niland was more than surprised to learn Quality of Life bond projects approved by voters in 2012 would not be finished until 2028.

ABC-7 found a 2012 city document states the El Paso Bond Overview Committee, in charge of managing the projects, would be discontinued in 2028. That is sixteen years from when the quality of life projects were approved.

Niland said council was committed to finishing the projects in ten years.

El Paso residents voted to approve $473 million in bonds to improve streets and neighborhoods, add parks, recreation centers and build a cultural arts facility. Those are just some of projects expected to be built.

At Tuesday's city council meeting, officials were presented with a plan that stated all projects would likely be complete in 16 years.

Niland did not hold back expressing her frustration.

"Why is this even in front of me," asked Niland

"If what we said was a ten-year roll out then why you are not showing me that?"

A city finance official told her he is working with a schedule given to him by the city's engineering department.

"Half the people that voted for this for their kids-- their kids will already be in college. I get frustrated when we make a commitment to do something and he we are and all of a sudden we have a (Powerpoint) slide with it going out in 16 years," she said.

City manager, Tommy Gonzalez responded.

"We're showing you the realistic numbers based on what was here. We can change it...I don't know that it has all been in front of you," he said.

He said they were looking at balancing the needs versus cost.  He added tax rates would increase if they did everything at the same time.

Mayor Oscar Leeser asked city attorney, Sylvia Firth, what was committed to the voters.

Firth confirmed voters approved the funds for the Quality of Life projects, but not the implementation.

Niland was adamant about council's word to the voters.

"This council unofficially made the commitments that we were going to do this over a ten-year roll out," said Niland

Gonzalez told council he will present them with a plan that projects all Quality of Life bond projects to be done in ten years.

"Ms. Niland, I hear you loud and clear and we'll show you those numbers," said Gonzalez.

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