El Paso City property owners could see hike in taxes

The city manager is calling it a "realistic budget."

City property taxes

EL PASO, Texas - Property owners in the City of El Paso will most likely see a hike in taxes.

City Manager Tommy Gonzalez has been on the job for about two weeks.

"I asked staff to put together a budget and balance it," Gonzalez said. "And they had talked about having input, and maybe not having an opportunity to have as much input before, and I said I want you to have as much input as you want."

He's calling it a "realistic budget." It's priorities: The police and fire academies, the reason being we have to keep the county's safest city, safe; a fully staffed, quick permitting process to keep business moving; and ensuring the commitments to the Quality of Life and street improvement bonds.

"We have more commitments that we've made, and we're selling more bonds, and there's a cost to that," Gonzalez said.

The cost: a potential tax increase of 2.3 cents for every $100 of home valuation.
1.2 cents is for economic incentives the city offers to bring in new businesses and expand existing businesses, 1.1 cents for the Quality of Life bonds.

That's about $34 for the average home costing around $125,000. That average household paid $842.48 in property taxes this year. Next year they'll pay $875.20.

"When you look at the average bill, its cheaper than having a cell phone. You pay more for a phone than you do for city services," Gonzalez said.

Those services include what residents voted for in the Quality of Life Bonds.
- Funding for a Digital Wall
- Enhancing four parks, including Cheryl Ladd and the Northeast Regional Skate Park
- Improving the zoo
- Upgrading the library system

"Its no different if you're at your house and you buy extra things for your house, you got to make the payment," Gonzalez said. "There's commitments that have been made and we have to make the payment."

Also making the payment the city itself. Gonzalez told all the departments they have to reduce their budgets by 5-percent. He's consolidating unnecessary positions, and while there are no layoffs, 100 positions are being eliminated, bringing the city's staff to less than 6,000.

The fees for Parks and Rec will go up and the Zoo fee is up from $10 to $12.

The budget isn't finalized yet and the city is interested in what people want.  They've set up way to submit your suggestions on their website.

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