I have good news and bad news - your property tax rate isn't going to go up this year. El Paso City Council decided to leave the tax rate where it was last year but, and here's the bad news, your property tax bill will still be higher.

The reason for the tax hike is because the Central Appraisal District raised property values by four percent. That will add about $11 to the average homeowners property tax bill next year. That will add up to an $5 million in additional revenue for the City and they already have a plan for it. $200,000 will be put into a Neighborhood Traffic Management System that will be used to install speed cushions and speed limit signage in residential neighborhoods. City reps will get double the money in their discretionary funds and go from $5,000 to $10,000.

I'm not sure if we really need to give City reps an additional $5,000 in their discretionary funds during this incredibly scary budget moment. Discretionary funds are exactly what the name implies. City reps can use it for whatever they want. They could decide to beautify a median in their district or any other number of things that might come up, but they've been making do with a $5,000 budget so they should continue to do so now.

Even though there will be $5 million more in taxes gathered, you should expect to continue to see the reduction of services like Quality of Life programs and services. Libraries, the streetcar, public swimming pools, splash parks, and other Quality of Life services will be either closed for the time being or only open on a limited basis in order to save tax money.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic will wreak havoc on the City's budget for years to come so we need to get ready for it.

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