City manager of El Paso addresses why tax incentives are used for different projects
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) —
Places like Top Golf and the recently announced I-Fly received more than $1 million worth of tax incentives to come to El Paso.
City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said bringing these attractions to the city can expand where it hasn't in the past.
As we've reported, Top Golf received $5.2 million in tax incentives, while I-Fly received $162,000.
Gonzalez said the goal of offering these incentives is to bring more companies to El Paso. Hesaid this will help lower homeowners' property taxes over time and help boost another tax revenue El Paso has been missing out on.
"Our business strategy is to look at, 'How can we bring in more sales tax?'” Gonzalez said. “How can we bring in more people to El Paso so that it can drive more home sales, more high paying wage jobs? How can we create that opportunity?”
UTEP economics professor Tom Fullerton told KFOX14 local governments handing out these incentives may not boost local economies. He said private businesses rely on doing well because of these packages.
But some El Pasoans are for the tax incentives.
"People are leaving El Paso because there's very little things to do. Top Golf, the indoor sky diving, the water parks, everything they are doing,” Sergio Tinajero said. “They're going to keep people here."
"People here are just known for not wanting to spend a lot of money,” Art Layva said. “They want a lot of things here but, they don't want to spend the money you need to get the stuff here."
But others feel these incentives should be used for something other than destination tourism.
Others want the packages to go to different projects other than entertainment.
"I'd like to see more of the industry-driven companies like engineering companies come down here... unfortunately, we didn't offer them enough incentive to stay,” Kent Solis said. “So, they took off and we did lose a lot of good jobs."
The city manager also said the city plans to use incentives for facilities like Top Golf in order to make El Paso a destination, not just a drive-thru city.
"I would say to them that it's an opportunity for us to be competitive” Gonzalez said.
“It's an opportunity for us to share that immediate increase in tax dollars to the rest of those taxing entities to keep their taxes low."
Fullerton says there has been a scientific study done on El Paso's tax incentives in more than a decade. So, it's unclear to see if the incentives the city has given have been a success.