City’s legal fees near $2 million for downtown arena

The neighborhood in Union Plaza known as Duranguito. Credit: KFOX14 / CBS4

We know how much it's costing the city of El Paso to go to court for the Downtown Arena project.

The city is spending money on two legal fronts with four different law firms. It has spent $943,702.38 on legal fees to buy the properties in the Union Plaza neighborhood where the arena is supposed to go, and $900,927.81 has been spent on the different lawsuits involving the project.

Director of economic development Jessica Herrera told KFOX14 it is important to know where this money is coming from.

"There are two separate buckets that we are utilizing to pay for what's considered litigation fees and to pay for what's considered real estate acquisition,” Herrera said.

The money for all of the lawsuits is coming out of the city's general fund, while the money for buying the land and properties is coming out of the $180 million arena bond.

KFOX14 spoke with a handful of people about how much the city has spent so far. They have concerns about how much is being spent.

"It's a ridiculous amount of money and why are we spending so much? What exactly is the holdup?” Carlos Combs, of Downtown El Paso, said.

"That money could've been used for roads, like, building better roads that we have,”

Carlos Hechevarria, of Downtown El Paso, said.

Others are for the project.

"I think it's going to be best for the city,” Brian McKinney, of Downtown El Paso, said. “But with all of the money that's being spent right now, I don't think it's worth it for El Paso."

Herrera said this money has all been accounted for by the city.

"Typically, what cities do is that cities will budget, just like El Paso does. We budget forlitigation fees for anything relating to legal expenses, anything relating to potential lawsuits,every year that's appropriated into the budget,” Herrera said.

Herrera said the legal fees tied to the general fund won't affect funding for other projects. She also said the spending won't affect the tax rate for the city.

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