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City To Continue Studying Possible West Side Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone

By ABC-7 Reporter Maria Garcia

ELPASO, Texas – City Council once again approved an item on the agenda that directs city staff to continue to study the feasibility of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone in the Montecillo Development in West El Paso.

EPT, the company responsible for the Montecillo development, located between I-10 and Mesa, and bordering Executive and Castellano, went before City Council in early December to ask City Council members to study if a TIRZ would be possible.

At that time, City Council asked city staffers in the office of Economic Development to study if that would be a financially prudent choice for the city and to report back in 30 days.

Kathryn Dodson, the Economic Development Director, told City Council on Tuesday that they had reviewed the possibility of a TIRZ and would need more time to study if it would be feasible for the Montecillo Development.

If City Council adopts a TIRZ and as property values increase with the development of the houses and retail buildings in the Montecillo development, some of the extra dollars from tax-payers would be set aside for public infrastructure only in this development.

Instead of the tax increment revenue going into the general fund and in turn, towards public improvements in other parts of the city, those tax dollars would only go to the Montecillo Development.

Government watchdog, Lisa Turner told City Council that if they passed a TIRZ, they would be cheating the general fund, “your costs are rising, but you’re starving the general fund.”

But City Rep. Beto O’Rourke said helping the developer would bring advantages to the residents. He said it would be “a bigger boom to the tax base and enhance the quality of life, housing and retail opportunities available to El Pasoans.”

The development would include a Wal-Mart near Mesa and Executive, about 300 residential homes, including condos and apartments, walkways, bike paths, and parks.

Funds from the TIRZ would only go to public projects in the development, such as parks.

Council approved a measure that would direct staffers to continue studying the issue.

City Representative Eddie Holguin was the only council member who opposed the measure. He has expressed dislike for such a policy in the past.

Back in December, he said taxpayers in other parts of town shouldn’t help foot the bill for a development on the West Side, “For people in the Lower Valley and Eastside to pay for that the people in the West Side can benefit.”

Mayor John Cook was not present.

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