RGV Vipers facility to not pay property taxes for 30 years

Edinburg – The lease agreement between the City of Edinburg and the Vipers’ Corporation, which seems to have been written by someone in the Vipers’ Corporation is clearly primarily beneficial to the Vipers’.   In fact, we fail to see any benefit to the city.

The lease payment to the City will be ONE DOLLAR A YEAR

  • The Vipers’ will have ultimate-use-authority over the facility, little or no revenue will come to the City for thirty years.
  • The Vipers’ authority includes leasing to private businesses certain areas of the facility.
  • The City will pay all utilities including a maintenance fee to ensure effective day-to-day operation.
  • NO PROPERTY TAXES WILL BE PAID to the City, County, ISD or other taxing bodies for thirty years.

Continue reading “RGV Vipers facility to not pay property taxes for 30 years”

Joseph Palacio’s wife transferred to Hidalgo Co Public Relations Dept

The transfer has been criticized as a conflict of interest risk.

Edinburg – The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved of a lateral transfer of the wife of County Commissioner, Joseph Palacio’s from Health and Human Services Department to the Public Relations Department.   Palacios’s abstained from the vote.

Misti Palacios will retain the same job title, and pay of Executive Assistant IV once the move becomes effective on January 1, 2018. Continue reading “Joseph Palacio’s wife transferred to Hidalgo Co Public Relations Dept”

Deadline looming, still no GOP challenger for Dist 41

December 11th is fast approaching, and the Republican Party has yet to field a candidate to challenge Robert “Bobby” Guerra for his Texas House of Representatives District 41 seat. Guerra, the incumbent, has irked out two victories against GOP opponents, one in 2014, the other in 2016.

Many political observers have determined that District 41 to be one of the most competitive offices for Republicans in the otherwise dominant Democratic Rio Grande Valley.  Continue reading “Deadline looming, still no GOP challenger for Dist 41”

Edinburg High School takes action after receiving anonymous threat

Edinburg – Law enforcement from several departments took immediate action to secure the safety of staff and students due to an anonymous threat that was received by school officials.

Parents were notified shortly after 7 am regarding the threat,  causing many parents to check in with their children to verify their safety.

Edinburg CISD police, along with law officers from the Edinburg Police Department, and Texas Department of Public Safety worked to secure school grounds.  Continue reading “Edinburg High School takes action after receiving anonymous threat”

UTRGV Medical School Dean wants taxpayers to “step up” and support health care tax

Edinburg –  John Krouse, the dean of the School of Medicine at UTRGV would like the citizens of Hidalgo County to support a health care taxing district, this according to comments he made at Tuesday’s Health care forum, hosted by the Texas Tribune.

Krouse was also joined by state Representatives Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Oscar Longoria, and U.S. Rep Filemon Vela, with each giving their opinion and insight on the health care conundrum in the Rio Grande Valley.

When the ever important topic on how the health care problem will be funded, Krouse used the opportunity to lecture the public on what their roles are as cash givers. Continue reading “UTRGV Medical School Dean wants taxpayers to “step up” and support health care tax”

Hidalgo County: No action on Health Care Funding District for second straight week

Edinburg – For the second straight week, the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court have taken no action on the “Health Care Funding District.” Possible discussion of the health care funding district have been scheduled for the past two weeks, appearing as listed items on the Hidalgo County agenda. Continue reading “Hidalgo County: No action on Health Care Funding District for second straight week”

UTRGV sees large drop in graduate degree enrollment

Edinburg – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has experienced a substantial decline in graduate enrollment according to a letter sent from UTRGV President Guy Bailey to faculty and staff on Wednesday.

In the letter, Bailey did not reveal by what margins or percentages the graduate enrollment has declined, but stressed that the reduction in enrollment could create significant challenges to the university.

Continue reading “UTRGV sees large drop in graduate degree enrollment”

Hidalgo Co: $29,000 pay raise for Executive Officer raises questions

Edinburg – Hidalgo County Executive Officer, Valde Guerra will being enjoying a 22% increase in salary if Hidalgo County Commissioners approve the Fiscal Year 2018 budget next week. The increase will bring Mr. Guerra’s total compensation to around $160,000 annually, which would be on par with other county governments of similar size and scope, this according to Precinct 2 Commissioner Eddie Cantu who spoke with the McAllen Monitor.

Guerra has been in the services of Hidalgo County for the past 30 years, ultimately being appointed to Executive Officer in 2007. According to Executive Officer profile on the Hidalgo County website, Guerra’s duties include:

  • Oversee and provide management direction to all County departments under the direct control of the Court.
  • Ensure to the Court that all departments are managed and administered in an efficient and cost-effective manner
  • Support the overall operations of the County
  • Provide necessary services to the Hidalgo County citizens and/or to County departments and employees
Valde Guerra, Hidalgo County Executive Officer

Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, Hidalgo Commissioners, nor Mr Guerra himself have demonstrated what additional duties Mr. Guerra would assume to justify a 22 percent increase, nor have they disclosed any performance evaluation reports to the public that would justify an increase.

It didn’t take long for Hidalgo County citizens to raise their concerns with Mr. Guerra’s raise.  The optics couldn’t come at worse time considering the cost of the new county courthouse is under scrutiny, and questions were raised on whether Hidalgo County really needed to procure a 5.4 million dollar voting machine replacement.

Complicating matters further is the uncertainty the federal 2018 budget will have on municiple and county governments, particular in housing and urban development, much in which the county has some oversight. Reduction or elimination of these grants could reduce employment, and place additional burden on Hidalgo County’s very own general fund if the county is to cover some of the cost.

Citizens also pointed out that Mr. Guerra’s increase amounted to an annual salary of various entry level staff positions, and could be better spent in aquiring additional support in numerous departments. Taking a look at the employement section of the county website shows a few positions where $28,943 increase is nearly the starting annual salary for some staff positions.

That being the case, did the Executive Office, budget office, and Commissioners take the time needed to determine whether essential support staff was urgent and necessary before approving the raise? Increase in personnel charges must be sustainable, and it’s $29,000 the county will not have for additional personnel or operating cost.  This especially at a time where unemployment rates in the Rio Grande Valley are running at higher percentages than other major metro areas.

Once again Commissioner Eddie Cantu justified Mr. Guerra’s increase by saying it maintains parity with other counties. However, what Mr. Cantu fails to understand is just because something is wasteful in other counties, doesn’t mean it has to be wasteful in ours.

UPDATE: The annual cost of living adjustment (budget permitting) for employees is 3 percent.

Edinburg Mayor and ECISD Board member clash over park project

Edinburg – Followers of both Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia and ECISD School Board member Miguel “Mike” Farias were treated to a tense but “respectful” exchange over the fate of an uncompleted park project.  Despite the respectful pleasantries peppered in their respective post, both sides accused the other of political posturing.

Continue reading “Edinburg Mayor and ECISD Board member clash over park project”

2017 McAllen mayoral race had a 42 percent drop in turnout since 1997

Othal Brand Sr’s 1997 runner-up vote totals were greater than Jim Darling’s winning totals in 2013 and 2017.

McAllen – Around 88 percent of eligible registered McAllen voters were not moved to vote in last Saturdays mayoral election, according to the unofficial election results provided by the City Secretaries Office.  Ultimately, their passiveness proved costly to challenger Othal Brand Jr, who had spent nearly two times as much as the Darling campaign, in effort to convince McAllen voters to elect him over incumbent Jim Darling.  Darling was declared the winner of the highly contested race with a comfortable margin of 4,409 votes to Brand’s 3061 tally.  While other traditional media outlets were quick to congratulate voters that turned out, a lingering question remained.  How could a city of over 134,000, with approximately 66,000 registered voters, have a major election decided by a very few?  Since 1997, the City of McAllen as seen a sharp decline in voter turnout for local races.

Continue reading “2017 McAllen mayoral race had a 42 percent drop in turnout since 1997”