The El Paso, Texas, City Council last week approved a revised project list to be funded with proceeds from a proposed $468 million general obligation bond package going to voters Nov. 6.

City leaders had been considering projects costing between $655 million to $835 million, but several expensive propositions failed to make the latest proposal.

The council will adopt a final bond project list in June when it officially calls for the election.

Approval of the new bonds would raise El Paso's property tax rate by $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed value

The bond projects will be on the ballot as two questions rather than the single, all-or-nothing question as first proposed.

Mayor John Cook fought for six categories but the council opted for two after a six-hour discussion of the proposal at Thursday's council meeting.

One of the questions will include $190 million of bonds for parks and recreations projects and $50 million for upgrades to the city zoo. The other seeks $180 million for a combined sports and entertainment center, $36 million for museums and $12 million for libraries.

A third question would raise El Paso's hotel tax by 2% to support $45 million to $55 million of bonds to build a minor league baseball stadium, if the city can attract a team.

The council rejected proposals for $20 million for downtown improvements and $100 million for a major league soccer stadium.

Some of the projects in the failed downtown proposal are included in the revised parks and museum spending. A proposal for $50 million of bonds to improve the Sun Bowl stadium was taken off the list by city manager Joyce Wilson at the recommendation of bond counsel Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot's office questioned whether the city could legally spend bond proceeds on the stadium, which it does not own.

The original bond proposal outlined to the council in April included $200 million for street upgrades. However, the council decided last week to finance the work with certificates of obligation rather than GO bonds.

The City Council adopted a plan that calls for the city to issue $210 million of the certificates for street projects over the next seven years,

El Paso's GO bonds are rated AA by Standard & Poor's and Fitch, 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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