Thursday, November 13, 2014

So what happened?

Yesterday by a vote of 6-1 OSAB recommended to City Council that the 10% of the stormwater fee for open space/stormwater projects be diverted to immediate flood control projects. Two points: the key words in the recommendation (and in the Mayor's proposal) are "up to $3.2 million". That is the amount that, under the current stormwater fee, will be collected over the next two years for open space. In our conversations with the Mayor and again at yesterday's OSAB meeting, I wanted to make it clear that we were only talking about the $3.2 million and not more revenue expected because the stormwater fee is most certainly going to be raised. The Mayor was on hand to give his presentation (a first as far as I know for a Mayor to come to the Board) and he personally stated that his request was for what will be collected in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 under the current rate. The rest he assured us goes into the open space coffers. 

The second point is this: much of what OSAB has sought to preserve as natural open space with stormwater function has now closed or soon will close. There is money on hand. Making this so is largely the result of EPWU attorney Lupe Cuellar's efforts for which she is to be showered with kudos. Here is her report from yesterday:

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1 comment:

  1. I respectfully disagree with yesterday's decision. No one asked why other city funds could not also be tapped to support these "public safety" issues, not least because one of them involved installation of a guard rail - surely something that Streets could attend to. More seriously, it has now been established that open space acquisition will give way to purposes characterized as more important. Although the OSAB expressed intent that this not been seen as a precedent, it is hard to imagine that it won't be.

    And while the immediate list of purchases may be in good shape, what happens if there is an opportunity to acquire some land that wouldl protect the front end of the mountain? There won't be any new money for two years, and less than a million remains.

    El Paso's infrastructure needs a huge amount of work. Many more public safety issues can be expected as we experience the weather extremes consequent to global warming. There will be more requests to do "what's best for the city."

    One might ask why on earth I-10 was built so low at a point where it should have been obvious that the route lay across a major drainage to what was then a river. Let's hope that better design decisions are being made now.