El Paso homeowners will see their city tax bill increase

EL PASO, Texas – El Paso City Council has unanimously approved the 2017-2018 budget in the amount of $896,357,226.

Homeowners will see their city tax bill increase about five percent. The tax increase impact on a $100,000 home will be $803.43. That is $43.78 more than last year.

At Tuesday’s meeting representatives approved a tax rate of 0.803, which is a little more than 80 cents for every $100 dollars of property value. That number is up from 0.759 last year.

The new budget maintains property tax relief for seniors and disabled homesteads.

El Paso mayor Dee Margo said he had hoped not to have to raise taxes, but the city was left with little choice.

"What I walked into here was commitments that have already been made. It wasn’t so much inefficiencies, it was commitments that were made. So those commitments were made to people, police and fire. So consequently, we really didn’t have a whole lot of choice. I guess my surprise or disappointment was this was really planned last year. It was expected," Margo said.

The budget reflects pay raises for police officers and firefighters as well as a vehicle replacement plan for Police and Fire. The city plans to replace 300 police cars. This budget includes funds for the first phase of patrol cars to be purchased. The city will also hold a police academy for 94 cadets instead of the proposed 80.

Robert Cortinas is the city’s budget office.

"I think one of the big things is public safety. You heard today that we are ranked the second safest city behind New York City. One of the things the community is known for, El Paso is recognized nationally for being a safe city. That doesn’t come free. It’s one of the largest cost drivers we see every year," Cortinas said.

At Monday’s special city council meeting, representatives made some last-minute budget requests.

Claudia Ordaz succeeded in securing $168,000 to add 350 baby changing stations to men’s and women’s restrooms in the city.

The city also added $250,000 to fund efforts to make streets compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The total is now $500,000 for fiscal year 2018.

An addition of $103,000 was made to improve a pedestrian path on Brown Street near Rim Road. Rep. Peter Svarzbein said the area has been dangerous for decades. He said a woman was recently hospitalized after falling down a 100-foot cliff.

City officials say 60 Quality of Life Bond projects will be completed by August 31. 21 more projects are slated to be completed in the upcoming year.

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El Paso Chihuahuas top Albuquerque Isotopes

(Photo: Courtesy El Paso Chihuahuas)

The El Paso Chihuahuas formula for a 4-2 victory over Albuquerque Tuesday was reasonably standard.

In a game that started 35 minutes later after a rainless rain delay, they got just enough offense early and enough pitching throughout to hang on to a lead they built in the first four innings and send a crowd of 7,080 home happy.

It was a nice start to the four-game series against the Isotopes that got off to a late start because of threatening skies.

Chris Huffman gave up one run in five and a third innings to get the win and Kevin Quackenbush got a six-out save after Albuquerque inched back in the game.

With the lead at 3-2, Ryan Schimpf, who had struck out in his first three at-bats, gave El Paso a margin for error with a blast that bounced off the third floor of the Big Dog House in right field. Before that Quackenbush settled El Paso with a quick eighth inning after Albuquerque had scored in back-to-back innings in the sixth and seventh to join the battle.

Quackenbush, the most transacted player in Chihuahua history, faced four batters in the ninth to close the game.

El Paso had a lead to play with after scratching out a run in three of the first four innings to stake Huffman.

The Chihuahuas had a chance for a big inning in the first when Travis Jankowski led off with a single, Chase D’Arnaud was hit by a pitch and Franchy Cordero moved them with a ground out. But with runners on second and third and one out, Christian Villanueva was a victim of a sensational diving catch by Isotope left fielder Mike Tauchman, who robbed Villanueva of what looked like a certain extra-base, two-RBI hit.

As it was, it did drive in a tagging Jankowski.

D’Arnaud led off the third with a home run to the deepest part of the park as it just cleared the wall in center field.

In the fourth, El Paso got a timely two-out RBI single from Jankowski that redeemed a fortuitous break on the base paths. With one out and Rocky Gale on second following a double, Huffman tried to bunt him to third but Gale was hung up in a rundown.

Gale was able to stay alive long enough for Huffman to barely beat a throw to second after Gale was tagged out. On Jankowski’s single, a good throw would have had Huffman but the throw sailed wide of the plate and allowed him to score.

Then the Isotopes began to claw back.

Cody Decker played against the El Paso Chihuahuas as a member of the Las Vegas 51s

Huffman ran into a bit of bad luck that drove him from the game in the bottom of the sixth. With one out and Tauchman on first after a single, Jordan Patterson hit a grounder right down the first base line that in fact hit first base and went as a double that put Tauchman on third.

Derrick Gibson then grounded to first, and the first baseman Villanueva made the optimistic decision to throw home. Tauchman was easily after and that left runners on first and second.

Jason Jester came on in relief and immediately got a break on the base paths when Gibson was caught stealing on a close play at second. Jester then struck out Tom Murphy to escape the inning with a 3-1 lead.

Another run came off of that in the seventh when Daniel Castro led off with a double and scored on a one-out single from Ramiel Tapia off of reliever Aroni Nina.

The two teams play again at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night at Southwest University Park.

El Paso remains two back of first place Salt Lake in the Pacific Coast League Southern Division. Salt Lake defeated Tacoma, 9-5, on Tuesday.

Bret Bloomquist may be reached at 546-6359; bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com; @bretbloomquist on Twitter.

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Funeral arrangements for El Paso Bandido president Juan Martinez are set

EL PASO, Texas – Funeral arrangements for slain El Paso Bandidos president Juan Martinez have been set.

Martinez was one of four men shot inside Mulligan’s Chopped Hog bar on Sunday July 30, he died from his injuries a day later.

El Paso police backed up by Texas state troopers, FBI agents and US deputy marshals arrested the alleged shooter, 34 year old Javier Gonzalez, in San Elizario. Gonzalez is reportedly a member of the Kinfolk outlaw motorcycle gang.

Members of the Bandido motorcycle club sent ABC7 the itinerary for Martinez’s rosary, visitation and funeral.

A rosary and vigil for Juan Martinez is scheduled for Friday August 11 beginning at 6 pm at St. Francis Xavier Mother Cabrini Catholic church at 12200 Vista Del Sol Drive

The funeral mass and interment are scheduled for Saturday. August 12.

The mass begins at ten am at St.Mark’s Catholic Church located at 11700 Pebble Hills followed

by interment at Evergreen East Cemetery located at 12400 East Montana.

A wake for Martinez will be held at Best Western Plus located at 6655 Gateway West following

the burial.

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EPPD: Vehicle burglaries greatly increase in West El Paso, decrease in the Northeast

EL PASO, Texas – The El Paso Police Department reported a significant increase in vehicle burglaries in West El Paso at the same time the Northeast experienced a decrease.

Police Thursday released figures comparing the number of vehicle burglaries this year compared to the same time last year:

East El Paso experienced a 5% increase in vehicle burglaries West El Paso experienced a 46% increase Vehicle burglaries in Central El Paso are down 3% The Lower Valley experienced no change Northeast El Paso experienced an 8% decrease

Although several individuals have been arrested and charged, police said say the number of cases continue to rise on the Westside.

A total of 83% of vehicles burglarized on El Paso’s Westside since June 1, 2017 were either unlocked, unsecured, or no forced entry was used or found.

El Paso police urge vehicle owners to lock their vehicles, remove or hide valuables within the vehicle, and take their keys with them.


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