Will A No Vote On Prop 3 Kill The El Paso Downtown Ballpark?
Is the Downtown El Paso Ballpark a done deal, or will the City have to start all over if you vote down Proposition 3? Well, that all depends on who you're talking to....
Opponents of the ballpark held a rally last night to encourage people to vote against all three ballot propositions, especially the hotel-motel tax, or HOT tax, that would pay for 73% of the ballpark.
El Paso lawyer, Stephanie Townsend Allala, who will be joining Mike and I in studio next Monday to talk about the bond election, said the El Paso City Council is a "shadow government" that made the decision about the ballpark in secret meetings.
So, the question remains, if you vote no on Prop. 3, can you stop the ballpark from being built?
Here are the facts on Proposition 3:
The ballot reads as follows: AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF EL PASO, TEXAS TO DESIGNATE THE MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STADIUM PROJECT AS A SPORTS AND COMMUNITY VENUE PROJECT WITHIN THE CITY IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAW AND TO IMPOSE A TAX ON THE OCCUPANCY OF A ROOM IN A HOTEL LOCATED WITHIN THE CITY, AT THE MAXIMUM RATE OF TWO PERCENT (2%) OF THE PRICE PAID FOR SUCH ROOMS, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING SUCH VENUE PROJECT."
What that wording means is, in order to be able to tap into the taxes that are already part of any hotel room in El Paso, AND raise the tax on a hotel room, voters have to agree to make the ballpark a Sports and Community Venue Project. If voters don't do that, the City can't access the hotel tax or raise it, and would have to find another way of financing the ballpark. There is nothing in the wording on the ballot that says if the proposition fails, that the ballpark will not be built.
Townsend Allala and a lawyer she hired from Austin say that Chapter 334 of the Texas Local Government Code says that sports venues have to be put to a vote. What they don't seem to understand is that it is being put to a vote - voters will decide who will pay for the majority of the ballpark, people who rent hotel rooms, or the citizens of El Paso. And to drive that point home, Mayor John Cook told KFOX 14, "We are contractually obligated to build the baseball stadium to be ready for the 2014 baseball season. They are absolutely wrong when they say (voting no) would save City Hall."
For information on Props 1, 2, and 3, visit the Our City, Our Future Facebook page.