The El Paso, Texas City Council amended its debt-management policy, eliminating the $100 million limit on certificates of obligation to allow the city to issue any amount of debt.

The shift from the policy adopted in 2006 allows the city to proceed with a seven-year, $210 million street infrastructure improvement plan adopted by the council in May.

The street project was originally included in a proposed general obligation bond referendum, but the council took it out. The council opted to limit the GO bond package to "quality of life" projects such as museums and parks, and to regard street maintenance and upgrades as a conventional city requirement.

City Manager Joyce Wilson said the amount of debt could be lowered by removing a policy to dedicate 2% of project spending to arts initiatives. However, the council decided to leave $4.2 million of arts funding in the program.

El Paso voters will decide Nov. 6 on a $486 million city GO bond referendum. Voters will also deciding in November on a 2% increase in the city's hotel occupancy tax to support revenue bonds for a minor league baseball stadium in downtown El Paso.

El Paso's GO bonds are rated AA by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings, and Aa2 by Moody's Investors Service. The city has approximately $600 million of outstanding GO debt and $217 million of outstanding certificates of obligation.

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