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City Facing $1.5 Million Budget Deficit

EL PASO — The city is half way through its budget year and it’s not looking good, city officials said.

Based on revenue and expenses, they said the city is over budget by about $1.5 million.

Tuesday, City Council got an update on the city’s finances through the second quarter. While no lay offs are planned for city workers, don’t expect to get a job with the city anytime soon.

Every department is looking for ways to cut back, city officials said.

“We show about a $1.5 million deficit by the end of the year the way things are going, ” said Bill Studer, deputy city manager.

The possible deficit is less than 1 percent of the city’s general fund of $312 million, which pays for the police and fire departments.

“Both budgets, police and fire, are over (budget) due to our misbudgeting of attrition and overtime. What assurance can you give us that we’re going to be able to get those under control? ” City Rep. Beto O’Rourke asked of the city manager’s office, who’s required to give quarterly financial reports.

“For the first time we’re seeing a declining levy of property taxes month by month,” explained Studer.

City officials said they didn’t take into account a new homestead exemption for disabled veterans , which could decrease/increase the deficit.

“We need to be prepared for that to go up as more veterans become aware of it and apply for it,” Studer said.

So, with less collected in sales and property taxes and the Mexican peso devaluation, city officials are facing a budget gap they said they’re hoping to close between now and the end of August.

Studer said, “We’ve been pushing pretty hard to hold some positions where we could and at least delay filling those positions.”

A special financial workshop will be held Thursday where City Council will discuss if a bond election will be held next year.

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