County Judge, Veronica Escobar

  • Summit looks at sharing services to save money
  • By Erica Molina Johnson / El Paso Times

  • EL PASO -- In an effort to consolidate resources to save taxpayers money, about 20 regional taxing entities came together Wednesday at the first Shared Services Summit.
  • "I think this is a way to save money for the district, and that's what we're looking for," said Gilbert Alarcon, assistant superintendent of finance and operations for the Fabens Independent School District.

    The summit was spearheaded by county Commissioner Veronica Escobar.

  • "When I was working in government many years ago I saw the areas where collaboration already existed and wondered why there wasn't more and I also know the realities of being a taxpayer and paying into multiple jurisdictions," she said.

  • "Now that I am an elected official within government, I see where we have taken advantage of some opportunities, but I think we haven't given enough empowerment to the professionals who run our government to create more opportunities."

    The representatives of various taxing entities were split into work groups to brainstorm about plans that could be implemented on large or small scales to share services with one another.

  • Larry Baskind, a lawyer who represents several school districts, told the group it might want to begin considering whether consolidation of health insurance is possible or desired.

  • "Maybe if we pool our resources, we'll have as much negotiating power as the big hospitals," he said.

  • Among the successes in shared services that were reviewed at the summit were the consolidated

    tax office, the consolidation of county attorney and district attorney functions and school district purchasing items through Region 19.
  • Escobar said she would like the event to be annual so that taxing entities could continue to find new ways to avoid raising taxes as the community grows.

    "We have to find ways to save money in some areas so that we can meet the demands in other areas," she said.

  • Erica Molina Johnson may be reached at; 546-6132.

  • County Judge
    Veronica Escobar