News Column

Texas Town Considers Transportation Reinvestment Zone

Oct. 15, 2012

Cindy Ramirez, El Paso Times, Texas

El Paso County commissioners are considering creating a Transportation Reinvestment Zone near the Eastlake/Old Hueco Tanks neighborhoods, and today will hear a presentation about the process and benefits of implementing the program.

"This would be the first project of this kind for the county," County Judge Veronica Escobar said. "It's a tool that the Legislature has given us to help us deal with traffic congestion, growth and many transportation needs we have out in the county."

The reinvestment zone refers to an area where taxes collected due to an increase in property values are used to pay off debt or monies spent for improvements in that zone. Being considered for the reinvestment zone are the areas along Eastlake, Darrington, Greg, Edgemere and Old Hueco Tanks streets, among others, in the county's far East Side.

To maximize its tax revenues, the county would have to partner with the city of Socorro and Horizon City to create the zones and establish a revenue-sharing agreement between the three entities, according to county documents.

Also Monday, commissioners will again discuss the medical examiner's office and potential candidates to fill the top position that has been vacant for more than two years.

The chief medical position has been vacant since May 2010 when commissioners fired Paul Shrode amid a number of controversies, including inaccurate claims about his credentials and questions about the accuracy and quality of his

work in his previous job.

It was unclear whether the executive session discussion will lead to the hiring of a candidate.

In August, commissioners changed temporary chief medical examiner Juan Contin's status from a contractor to a county employee.

He will continue to serve as an at-will employee until a permanent chief examiner is hired. Contin could then be kept on as a deputy examiner or in some other position.

Also in executive session, commissioners will consider litigation against the Village of Vinton, which has been operating without an approved budget since the new fiscal year began Oct. 1.

The Vinton village council last month failed to agree on a budget on how to pay its debt. Vinton officials have said they will continue to provide basic services such as police protection and health and sanitation using last year's budget and tax rate as a guide.

Because the discussion will be held behind closed doors, Escobar could not provide details of what legal action the county may take.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: (c) 2012 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

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