'Aggressive' plan to fix El Paso streets coming up short?

KDBC
Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 11:56pm

Two years after El Paso's city council embarked on an ambitious plan to improve the city's streets, not all city leaders are happy with the progress thus far.

"There was a forecast, and there was a proposal that was put together that we were supposed to accomplish in 7 years...we wanted to get aggressive" said District 8 City Representative Cortney Niland.

"At this particular time, we're off track."

Niland is referring to the Street Infrastructure Capital Plan, approved in May of 2012. The plan authorized $210 million dollars for 90 projects ranging from street resurfacing to complete reconstructions.

"We realized that after being two years into the system, we've only spent $28 million dollars," Niland said Tuesday. "So that puts us on a 15 to 20-year plan, and that's not what we committed to the public."

But new City Manager Tommy González told NewsChannel 9 that everything he's seen since he took office - about a month ago - points to a 10-year plan, not a 7-year plan.

A search of online city council archives produced the Power Point presentation that was made to the representatives on the day of the vote in 2012. The term is listed as "7 years."

Still, Niland and González both agree that the way to speed along the street projects would to be set up a dedicated revenue stream for them.

Rather than issue more city debt, Niland has her eye on a water bill fee. She told NewsChannel 9 the fee would ensure that everyone who uses El Paso's roadways helps to pay for them, instead of placing the entire burden on property taxpayers.

"Everyone has an opportunity to pay into the system to support this infrastructure," Niland said.

The Public Service Board, which oversees El Paso Water Utilities, recently approved a resolution against the proposed fee. Other members of city council have also expressed reluctance.

González said a water bill fee is not a part of his budget plan, but said the city representatives could push for one if they so desired.
 

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