City officials plan to ask voters in November to approve a bond issue for capital improvements, according to city documents.
An item on the City Council’s first meeting of the year scheduled for Tuesday calls for “discussion on the development and timeline of a bond program in alignment with the implementation of the City’s Strategic Plan.”
City Council has discussed the possible need for a bond issuance during regular meetings in 2021, as well as during a strategic planning meeting on Dec. 2. During the meeting, the council voted to direct staff to put together a bond process that would be brought back to the council.
City documents show projects could include a variety of categories including streets, solar energy, eco tourism, housing and green infrastructure. The documents do not show how much the city is proposing to ask voters to approve.
The bond issues would be repaid through property taxes. A 2018 report by the Texas comptroller found that El Paso residents had about $2,900 of municipal tax-supported debt per person, which was 10th among the state’s 20 largest cities.
City officials could not be reached for comment.
City officials will also discuss the timeline for outreach and development of the bond proposal with community engagement in early 2022, public outreach in the spring and project selection in the summer. The bond program would be introduced in early August ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
City Council would have to vote to approve the final bond program and vote to place it on the ballot for the general election.
In 2019, voters were asked to approve an approximately $413 million public safety bond to fund a variety of projects and improvements for the El Paso Police Department and El Paso Fire Department including a new police and fire academy. The bond was approved by about 59% of voters.
In 2012, voters approved a $473 million bond to fund park improvements, library improvements and community centers. The bond issue also included funding for three signature projects — a children’s museum, a multipurpose performing arts center and a Mexican American cultural center. None of the signature bond projects have been completed.
The Downtown multipurpose arts and entertainment center has been stalled for years with ongoing litigation. City Council recently opted to try to negotiate an end to the years-long legal battle.
Multiple bond projects have cost more than originally anticipated. The city has used millions of dollars in non-voter approved debt in the form of certificates of obligation to supplement the cost of quality of life bond projects.
How to participate
What: City Council meeting
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday
Where: City Council chambers, 300 N. Campbell St. Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended.
Virtually: Teleconference phone number: (915) 213-4096; toll free number: (833) 664-9267 conference ID: 209-817-15#
Watch: Via the city’s website: http://www.elpasotexas.gov/videos
Via television on City15 or on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/cityofelpasotx/videos
To make a public comment: Call (915) 213-4096 or call the toll free number (833) 664-9267
Cover photo: Construction on the El Paso Children’s Museum continues at 201 W. Main Drive. The museum is part of a bond issue passed by city voters in 2012. The city broke ground on the project in October 2020. (Elida S. Perez/El Paso Matters)