Image courtesy of epcounty.com
Several weeks ago the County Commissioners and County Judge voted themselves a raise: Escobar saw a $14,422 pay increase with her salary going from $87,578 to $102,000. County Commissioners saw a $26,569 pay increase from $62,681 to $89,250. Outrage ensued and many of you emailed, called, tweeted and facebooked the County Commissioners. In response to the outrage, Veronica Escobar wrote a letter where she stated: “Finally, you should know that we will be adopting either the effective tax rate or be going below the current tax rate (for a tax decrease) this year again. If we do the latter, many El Pasoans will again this year see a reduction on their tax bill from the County.” See, it doesn’t matter that they gave themselves HUGE raises, your taxes are going to go down! Sure, that may be true, but:
- On September 15th they removed the cost-of-living adjustments for retired county employees. “Haggerty told KFOX14 the decision to cut COLAs for retired county employees will save the county’s retirement fund upwards of $30 million over a 15-year-span.” (You can read the KFOX story here).
- Also on September 15th the County Commissioners started considering lowering the number of paid time-off days employees receive annually. Haggerty was in favor of reducing the days. Stout stated that “We are in the public sector, and so part of our recruiting ability comes with the fact that we offer benefits. The private sector, they can attract people with money, and so we don’t want to lose that recruiting tool.” (You can read the KFOX story here). Interesting that they raised their own salaries to attract better candidates but are looking to REDUCE vacation days while at the same time acknowledging that the County does not pay as much.
- On Monday, the County Commissioners approved a tax increase for UMC. The court approved a 1.4 cent property tax increase for UMC, which amounts to approximately $17 more a year on a $123,000 home. We find this one to be the MOST disingenuous of all of the things the County Commissioners have done. Veronica Escobar has repeatedly stated that the County is not raising taxes. In fact, the article announcing the UMC tax increase even reiterated that the County isn’t raising your taxes. However, the UMC budget is approved by the County Commissioners; the UMC budget is part of the County Budget. So, YES, the County Commissioners did just raise your taxes.
We are incredibly disappointed and concerned with the way the County Commissioners have gone about giving themselves these raises. They keep reminding us that their raises are not going to increase our property taxes while, at the same time, cutting money and incentives for others in the county. They pat themselves on the back that THEY didn’t raise property taxes while they approve the highest property tax rate they can for UMC. Finally, as we stated in a previous article, the County Commissioners MUST advertise the raises. Under pressure, Veronica Escobar stated that the notice would be published in El Paso Inc. We have checked every week since then and STILL have not seen the raises posted. Have you?