The film “Aristotle and Dante” by Ben Sáenz has its premiere

This is your Friday update, taking a quick look at the week ahead and some developments that El Paso Matters is following.

Ari & Dante Premiere in Toronto: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Mysteries of the Universe, a film based on the novel by celebrated El Paso author Benjamin Alire Sáenz, will premiere this fall at the Toronto International Film Festival. Writer-director Aitch Alberto adapted the book for the film, which is being produced by actor/playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. Eugenio Derbez and Eva Longoria co-star alongside newcomers Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzalez as Ari and Dante. Ranked among Time Magazine’s Top 100 Young Adult Fiction of All Time, Aristotle and Dante is set in El Paso in the 1980s. It tells the story of two gay Mexican-American teenagers who form a friendship and fall in love. TIFF, one of the largest open film festivals in the world, takes place September 8-18 in Toronto, Canada. “After the festival premieres, we will have news on when Ari & Dante hits theaters,” Sáenz posted on Instagram, adding that he hopes it will screen at the Plaza Theater in downtown El Paso.

District tax rate: The El Paso County Commissioners Court on Monday authorized the release of a proposed tax rate that would require voter approval because it is 10% higher than this year’s tax rate, taking into account increased home valuations. However, the voter approval rating of 46 cents per $100 appraisal is for publication purposes only, the district judge and chief administrator said, as the district works to implement the lower rate of 42 cents — the non-new tax rate. The reason for publicly announcing the higher tax rate is to allow the Court flexibility in setting a tax rate after budget hearings. The court may set a lower rate than the rate it has published, but not a higher rate. Still, the vote to release the higher tax rate was 3 to 1, as Commissioner Iliana Holguin encouraged the court to adopt the lower tax rate and reassure local taxpayers – who are facing higher property tax bills from other companies. Commissioner Carl Robinson was not present at the meeting. A public hearing on the tax rate will be held on August 22 at 5:30 p.m. The tax rate is expected to be adopted in September.

Million-dollar fine fight continues: El Paso Water and the New Mexico Environment Department will continue their dispute over a $1.2 million fine through administrative filing, but a utility attorney warned a lawsuit is also likely. “I think the commission should be aware that there will likely be a concurrent trial in this proceeding because of the jurisdictional issues,” said Thomas Hnasko, a Santa Fe-based environmental attorney representing El Paso Water. Attorneys for El Paso Water argued in briefs that New Mexico environmental officials have no authority to charge the utility with the decision to divert more than 1.1 billion gallons of sewage into the Rio Grande after the pipes burst last August to be fined. The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission, the state’s environmental protection agency, heard arguments from both sides and agreed to schedule a hearing at a future meeting.

And now the weather: It was hotter and drier than a typical July in the sun city – a fingerprint of climate change. The summer of 2022 scorched Texas, and July was the hottest since 1895 for the state on record, according to the National Weather Service. Much of the record-breaking temperatures occurred in central Texas, but El Paso had a string of triple-digit days. Extreme events like these are more likely to be the result of climate change, said Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at Climate Central, a nonprofit organization that tracks climate data.

“I mean, this summer is just crazy, it’s really, really crazy,” Pershing said.

Daily temperatures in El Paso averaged “normal” about 2.4 degrees hotter, equivalent to 94.7, and a pressure ridge disrupted the seasonal monsoon cycle, pushing storms across Arizona instead. The lack of monsoon moisture is putting even more strain on the environment, and farmers are looking for moisture to supplement this year’s short watering season. Jesús “Chuy” Reyes, the manager of El Paso County’s No. 1 Water Improvement District, said the river is expected to stop flowing through El Paso on August 24, completing the 12-week irrigation.

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