County leaders approve tax rebates for 4-star hotel

County sales tax rebate, property tax rebate, and mixed-beverage rebates part of new deal

EL PASO, Texas - The county of El Paso has approved tax breaks for a limited liability corporation that intends to build the first four-star hotel in El Paso.

County commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the tax breaks, which amount to $5.7 million. The missing vote belonged to Dan Haggerty, who has been unable to attend three straight meetings.

The hotel would be built near the El Paso International Airport.  Estimated investment figures show that it would cost the company more than $60 million.  A presentation showed to county leaders described that the hotel would house 220 rooms, and hold retail space, meeting space, and restaurants.

The hotel is expected to be completed within three years.  According to EP Vida's CFO, Westin is among the hotel chains interested in bringing a hotel to El Paso in that specific location.

According to commissioners, the vote was an easy one. Information was presented that showed the property where the hotel would be built, which has sat vacant for years, would bring roughly $2.1 billion into the area over the next 15 years.

The benefits would include: a county sale tax rebate of 100 percent for 10 years, a 100 percent rebate on the county's share of property taxes for 15 years and 100 percent rebate on county taxes for mixed beverages for 10 years.

According to EP Vida LLC's CFO, the project would bring more than 350 jobs to El Paso. In order to keep the rebates, the agreement with the county calls for a minimum of 300 jobs. Commissioner Carlos Leon told ABC-7 that wording in the contract also required 65 percent of the workforce to be local, something that isn't usually written into contracts.

Unlike the city's tax rebates that were approved by city representatives earlier this month, the county will not use hotel occupancy taxes (HOT taxes) to fund the project. County Judge Veronica Escobar said the court had recently decided to save HOT tax money to safeguard county assets like the Mission Trails and the soon-to-be-finished jail.

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