It’s budget time. EPISD is looking at its budget, as is the El Paso County Commissioners Court with their controversial pay raise, and El Paso City Council is also looking at the budget for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year that begins in October. At today’s City Council meeting, Mayor Oscar Leeser said no to the $903 million fiscal year 2017 budget approved by city reps because it includes a property tax hike.

So what happens now that the mayor has vetoed the proposed 2017 budget? City reps will now have to decide if they want to go back and look at the budget to find areas that can be cut and bring in a budget that doesn’t include a property tax hike, or vote to overturn Leeser’s veto.

Mayor Leeser says his administration has worked hard to create jobs and grow the tax base and if property taxes continue to go up, that will slow that growth. Unfortunately, voters have recently said yes to the Quality of Life bond and the pay raises for the El Paso police and fire departments, and because they need to now be paid for, some city reps say there is no way to avoid a property tax increase.

The proposed 2017 budget would tax property owners 77 cents for every $100 of home valuation which is a little more than 5 percent increase. It would mean a home valued at about $127,000 would have a tax bill increase of about $56.

If you think that Leeser is saying no to raising property taxes so he can run for re-election on that platform, think again. Earlier this year he announced he will not run for mayor again. If city reps decide to try and overturn the Mayor’s veto, three-fourths of Council will have to vote to do so. If the Mayor does not respond to that vote within five days, the budget would be passed.