EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) — Property tax rates in El Paso are among the highest in the state of Texas and higher than the national average.
Still, the City of El Paso signed off on 20 years of tax breaks worth 2 million dollars to billionaire Paul Foster who plans to redevelop the Kress building downtown.
“The more businesses that we draw in, the more that we are able to even out the number of businesses in our community that are able to provide the taxes and reduce the burden, that is to say the homeowner," said Laura Cruz-Acosta, spokeswoman for the City of El Paso.
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While Foster hopes to bring more to downtown, not everyone is excited about the project.
"It'll be a lot of fun and generate a lot of excitement downtown," said Foster, owner of the Kress.
Some El Pasoans told KFOX14 that it's hard seeing the value of their homes, and likely their tax bills go up, while commercial property owners continue to receive tax breaks from local governments.
"He’s a billionaire, he is going to renovate the Kress but he’s going to make sure he gets his money back and some," said Wilson.
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"One of the things to take into consideration is that the property owner is actually investing over $18 million dollars into the property himself and so, it's not so much that we are asking anybody else to pay for that, he's already investing over 18 million dollars into the property," said Cruz-Acosta.
The city says it's a give and take that will take years to balance out.
It is a balance El Pasoans hope comes sooner than later.
"What we had 20-30 years back, it would be nice if could get it back," said Wilson.
The City of El Paso, county, school boards, UMC, and EPCC are expected to finalize a budget and tax rate over the summer.
Currently, the city is asking residents to share their views on what city services are most meaningful to them through the annual budget survey: Chime In!
The survey is available in English and Spanish via the Chime In! banner on the City’s homepage at www.elpasotexas.gov. The survey period runs through May 31.
Under this engagement campaign, the public will have additional opportunities to participate in the budget development process including social media polls, focus groups, and a series of public meetings that will be scheduled prior to the adoption of the new budget.
Survey responses will serve as a guide for prioritizing the city’s budget, which will be adopted by August 31.
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