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Commissioners adopt new tax increases

Monday, September 23, 2013 - 7:08pm

Two new tax increases will hit El Paso county residents. The Commissioners court made the controversial decision today during a very long meeting.

Residents will have to pay a little less than 50 dollars more for their property taxes. That money will go to fund the county operation costs and the 3 new University Medical Center clinics.

The first approved increase is UMC’s at 21.4 cents per 100 dollar valuation; this would represent an additional 21 dollars per year for a 100 thousand dollar home owner.

The second tax increase of 4.9% on the current tax rate was for the general county budget, a 100 thousand dollar home owner would pay an additional 20 dollars per year.

"what some of the increases are, obligations that we can't not fund, for example increases in legal fees, in the jail the sheriff's union contract, those are obligations that we can't not fund and we also trough budget hearings added to the budget," County Judge Veronica Escobar said.

Commissioner Sergio Lewis who voted no to both increases said that even though tax increases were necessary the county had other options.

“During strategic planning my recommendation is in the coming years to plan around the budget which is something I don’t think we really did we didn’t show number we didn’t look at numbers we didn’t realty plan around expenditures and revenues,” Lewis said.

Judge Escobar disagrees. She says there’s no way of balancing the budget and the past adopted costs without increasing taxes.

“the analysis that I gave was that it’s like buying a car and dip in to my savings account to to pay for three months of the car payment well what are you going to do after that.” Escobar added.

The increase will fund operation costs of the state that have to be fulfilled, that include the sheriff's office, judiciary, elections department, mental health department among others.

“We have growth in the courts, in the jail and law enforcement that there’s no other way to fund.” Escobar concluded.

According to county officials the adopted tax increase is at the same as it was in 2004. These increases are expected to help avoid more in the future.



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