EL PASO, TX – The El Paso City Council has taken a first step toward approving a tax rate with no new revenue, meaning the City Council proposes no increase in property assessments for Fiscal Year 2024 while still meeting the needs of the community.
Interim City Manager Cary Westin and Finance Director Robert Cortinas on Monday, July 31, presented a preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2024 with the certified property tax roll and proposed tax rate with no new revenue.
“As I said at the outset, I supported a tax rate with no new revenue, and I believed the City Council and City staff could find the efficiencies necessary to achieve this goal while still addressing the needs of our community,” said Mayor Oscar Leeser.
According to Westin, a budget surplus of $37.6 million has been achieved this fiscal year that will be used to invest in the community without having to issue more debt.
“The City will use the current fiscal year surplus to pay off all remaining principal on Transportation Reinvestment Zone (TRZ) #2, which will save the City $20 million in interest costs and provide $8 million in additional annual recurring revenue for our general fund for this upcoming fiscal year and future years,” commented the interim city manager.
Westin said the proposal seeks to increase the number of police officers and firefighters through multiple training academies (three police academies and two fire academies), in addition to retaining current officers through competitive compensation.
It is also intended to allocate funds for facility improvements and repairs; allocate resources to replace vehicles and heavy equipment; fund the opening of new facilities through the voter-approved 2019 Public Safety Bond program.
Another goal is to add an additional $6.4 million in annual pay-as-you-go funding for street resurfacing projects (Provide an annual total of $16.4 million).
In addition, the City Council indicated that it will continue the commitment to provide exceptional recreational and cultural opportunities through investments in new facilities including: La Nube (Children’s Museum); Mexican-American Cultural Center; and the penguin exhibit at the zoo.
It will also seek to improve investment in workforce retention and recruitment by increasing the starting wage from $12.11 to $13.11 (per hour) by September 2023; increasing funding for the Tuition Assistance Program; and absorbing health care cost increases for civilian employees for the fifth consecutive year.
The public hearing on the FY 2023 budget will be held on August 14; the adoption of the FY 2024 budget and tax rate on August 15; and the new fiscal year will begin on September 1.