Cultural Center: Why Should the Taxpayers Pay for It?

On Friday, I shared with you how the cultural center name issue has not been settled yet. I also let you know that I would be addressing the issue of whether the taxpayers should be paying for it. That is the other significant discussion point about the proposed cultural center. The discussions range from the taxpayers should not be paying for any cultural center to the taxpayers shouldn’t pay for an Hispanic-focused cultural center.

To address this, let me take you back to the ordinance funding the baseball stadium. Unlike, the cultural center, the voters did not approve paying for a ballpark.

The exact language used in Ordinance 017850 “An ordinance ordering a special election to be held in the City of El Paso, Texas on November 6, 2012, for a venue project and imposing Hotel Occupancy Tax, making provisions for the conduct of the election, and resolving other matters incident and related to such election.”

The ordinance adds that the city designated “a multipurpose coliseum, stadium or other type of arena or facility that is planned for use for one or more professional or amateur sports events, including minor league baseball games (the ‘Stadium Project’) and related infrastructure.”

I believe we can all agree that the target for the funds was the baseball stadium.

The ballot, that voters actually voted on, states “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 (25) of the price paid for such room, for the purpose of financing such venue project.”

A plain reading of the ballot language clearly lays out that the voters approved a “minor league baseball stadium” to be financed by imposing a two percent tax on hotel occupants. Supporters of the ballpark have relied on the passage of this proposition to argue that the ballpark was approved by the voters.

What the voters actually approved was using HOT taxes to fund the ballpark. They did not approve using property taxes to fund the project, including the debt. Yet, the taxpayers of the city are funding the ballpark. The taxpayers are projected to fund it for the next few years, even on a best-case scenario.

The cultural center, on the other handed, was clearly to be funded by the taxpayers of the city. The ordinance and the ballot both stated as such. There is no ambiguity there. Therefore, the question of whether the taxpayers should be funding a cultural center is moot because they approved it.

As a matter of fact, 71.7% of the voters approved funding the cultural center proposition. Only 60% approved using the HOT taxes to fund the ballpark. Clearly, funding for the cultural center was approved by the votes and they agreed to pay for it.

Thus, the argument of whether the taxpayers should pay for it cannot be argued anymore. This is especially true for the ardent supporters of the ballpark who are ignoring the fact that the voters never approved paying for the ballpark.

9 thoughts on “Cultural Center: Why Should the Taxpayers Pay for It?

  1. Let’s clear up the easier issue. The stadium was highway robbery. Shouldn’t have happen but it did. That’s that.

    The cultural center is different because there is still time to stop and have real discussion with public. Why the rush to select the theme and name ? We don’t even have the money.

    If the public is expected to pay, then the public should decide the outcome. Not some group that is more concerned with potential political enhancement. Once again, this city was built by people from various ethic groups and races. Is the city willing to look silly by building two centers, next to each other. Name one the Mexican Cultural center and the other center would be named “All Others”. If this really a city of equality, that’s what would have to happen.

    The logic that the stadium was forced down our throats therefore the cultural center can be developed the same way is flawed. Is there where the city wants to go, from this day foward all projects are to be forced? If that’s the case, then don’t bother to tell residents to register and vote. It would be pointless to vote, just gave the power brokers hold communist/dictatorship style of elections. You kniw, the party and central committee preselect the candidate and the votes are predetermined.

    Do the right thing and showcase El Paso as the “melting pot” . A city that is modern or evolving is inclusive not exclusive. Isn’t that what the sixties was about? Oh well, I suppose there is truth that El Paso is behind the times. Or it is moonwalking back in time. Hey maybe we can add xican to the ending if every ethic group. Chinexican, syriaxican, russianxican, irishxican or germanxican. But how do we fix puerto rican. Tongue twister, puerto ricanxican ? Cubanxican? Then we can name the center “the xican cultural center. Simple solution.

  2. can you post an article about how much HOT taxes were collected last year and with airport visitors down and hotel occupancy down, how much of a shortfall are we looking at and is it legal to dip into another fund to shore up the difference?

  3. It’s funny how the city “reps” and managers and commissioners brag about the voters voting FOR anything. I should say, on an average, there only 15% (over-estimated probably) of voters who vote. About 7.0% to 11 % of those voters (legal and not legal) were pursuaded to vote for more debt. Well, that leaves about 85% to 92% registered voters dinenfranchised by NO representation or have even voted for more debt. Any expense made by the county and the city has been out of deception and fraud, and not approved by the majority of voters

  4. so peppers, where is the outrage of the shortfall? 500k year one? this year airport traffic is down, hotel occ is down a few % points so i guess this year the shortfall will be more than 500k. so where is the outrage? and james, taxation with out representation, yes? i pay hefty taxes and i have no kids in episd, epcc, wont use umc(unless im shot in the face) but i do use the roads so can i opt out of the ones i dont use? nope so even the voter stiffs him/herself on these ridiculous bonds. and the service charges on the bonds and so on. good post james

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