Thursday, August 30, 2012

City Finalizes Quality of Life Ballot Questions


The City of El Paso has narrowed down the Quality of Life (QOL) proposals that will appear on the ballot in the November general election to three questions.

Questions 1 and 2 will cover about $473 million worth of parks and recreation (including zoo) projects as well as museum, performing arts and library projects. They are separated generally into outdoor and indoor uses.


Question 1:
PARK, RECREATION, OPEN SPACE AND ZOO IMPROVEMENTS PROPOSITION
“THE ISSUANCE OF $245,000,000 GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS FOR PARK, RECREATION, OPEN SPACE AND ZOO IMPROVEMENT, INCLUDING SOCCER/SPORTS FIELDS, AQUATIC CENTERS, AND NEW AND IMPROVED RECREATION, SENIOR AND COMMUNITY CENTERS.”

Question 2:
MUSEUM, CULTURAL, PERFORMING ARTS, AND LIBRARY FACILITIES PROPOSITION
“THE ISSUANCE OF $228,250,000 GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS FOR MUSEUM, CULTURAL, MULTI-PURPOSE PERFORMING ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT AND LIBRARY FACILITIES IMPROVEMENTS, INCLUDING NEW CHILDREN’S MUSEUM, CULTURAL HERITAGE CENTER AND INTERACTIVE DIGITAL WALL.

The third question will ask voters to approve a 2% increase in the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) in order to fund the construction of a downtown baseball stadium at the current City Hall site. Currently, the HOT sits at 15.5% of which the City gets 7%.


Question 3:
VENUE PROJECT AND HOTEL OCCUPANCY TAX PROPOSITION
“AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF EL PASO, TEXAS, TO PROVIDE FOR THE PLANNING, ACQUISITION, ESTABLISHMENT, DEVELOPMENT, CONSTRUCTION AND FINANCING OF A BASEBALL STADIUM PROJECT WITHIN THE CITY AND TO IMPOSE A TAX ON THE OCCUPANCY OF A ROOM IN A HOTEL LOCATED WITH IN THE CITY, AT THE MAXIMUM RATE OF TWO PERCENT (2%) OF THE PRICE PAID FOR SUCH ROOM, FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING SUCH PROJECT.” 

Raising the HOT will cap it at a maximum allowable rate of 17.5%. Despite possibly having the highest HOT rate in the state, the Average Daily Rate of a hotel room in El Paso remains one of the lowest in Texas. This means that the 2% increase would amount to about $1.40 more per night on an average hotel room in the city. When looking at actual tax collected per night, El Paso would still collect less per room than all major cities in Texas, even with the increase in the HOT.

Average HOT per room in dollars.

The City adds: "Please note: Voters will be voting on a two percent (2%) increase in the hotel occupancy tax (HOT) only. Voters will not be voting on the ballpark project itself. An increase in the HOT tax will allow for visitors to pay for the majority of the ballpark project not its residents."

City Quality of Life webpage: http://home.elpasotexas.gov/2012-Bond/

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