The El Paso Times was moved to write another piece about the Impact Tax because of my blog posts. It seems that some come calling around showed I have been correct from the beginning.
You can read the piece HERE.
Again, City Planning is driving this issue where in the past Ed Archuleta, head of the PSB, was the guy asking. PSB board members are horrified at this moment given that they are getting nasty phone calls on the issue and they've made it clear - the current Impact Tax scale is absolutely fine. Especially since the growth is slowing and the original fees were supposed to be good for another five or six years. The PSB has no real idea why City Planning is doing this and they also question what bank account that money is going into.
Notice in the article that it's a City Planning official who is the mouth of the project. Also notice the complete lack of PSB input for the push. Why would you leave out the very entity that is supposed to be spending the money when talking to the public? Wouldn't a PSB official be better at explaining exactly why and increase is needed now on the downside of development when it wasn't needed a few years ago at the height?
The problem is that most of you - especially ankle biters commenting on these posts - have zero idea about El Paso's water and waste water facilities. Hell, none of you even knew who paid for the expansion in the first place. They can tell you anything they want and you'll believe them because you want to believe them. The fact is, the one entity that is the final word on needing money for sewer and water has never come out publicly, or even privately to City Council, asking for money. Are you not curious as to why? Here's a governmental entity that publicly begged to tax you for stormwater and all of sudden they can't be bothered to explain this new tax? Maybe because it's not them.
Obviously the PSB will take more money. They are a billionaire utility in a time when most of them are sucking wind. They bought land all over God's green earth to pay for growth, but now refuse to spend it when El Paso is almost out of room to grow. Why? Because they don't have to. They have minor expansions to service left to do and they can pay for that with the $50 million or so they profit each year. We're talking less than $5 million in expansion costs says one former PSB board member. The running joke was that they could build on every piece of empty land in El Paso and the current impact fees plus the increase in the number of rate payers would net them a healthy profit because their system isn't near capacity.
The real kicker here is that nobody is saying exactly where this increased tax revenue will be put. One city insider told me that it will not got to the PSB unless they show a need. Instead, the money will be stashed in the general fund to prop up the city budget that is being set upon by a spend happy city council (Shawver Park anyone?).
What do you guys think about that? Your claim that the "PSB needs the money" is defeated by the fact they likely won't see anything more than their old rate of $900.
And remember, when the progressives were on council they wanted to increase impact fees to deter growth - not keep up with infrastructure costs (because there were none they could demonstrate - new growth pays for itself). So why all of a sudden is their a need now when there wasn't a need at the height of the boom?
Also, given that council is going to vote 6-2 on this and not a single one of them is owning this as an issue - don't you have some questions? Not a single council member is stepping up to talk about why this is needed, yet they're hot to trot on passing this tax. Since when does city staff get to shove through tax increases without any resistance from the elected officials involved? Why won't a city council member stand up and talk about this?
Because it's a sham. Because it's being done on false pretenses. The original vote for Impact Taxes featured three council members as sponsors and Ed Archuleta. They couldn't stop talking about it. And now you got one guy who works in planning who hates single family homes and he's just throwing bullshit at you and you're buying it like it's an ounce of gold for a buck.
Don't say I didn't warn you. It's not about growth anymore. It's about a tax being slipped in under your nose and it won't be the last one.
Also - the only time growth doens't pay for itself is when it is controlled by a Municipal Utility District (MUD). Guess what all those new developments going to the county now are going to be governed by? MUDs. And YOU are going to pay for all the infrastructure to link them to the city one day. Smart move.
Look for tomorrow's piece on why people use erroneous arguments like "growth doesn't pay for itself" to mask their real agendas.