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City of Peñitas proposes 2.5 cent tax increase

City-of-Penitas-logoPEÑITAS—The City of Peñitas is scheduled to hold two public hearings on a proposed tax rate increase. The council is proposing to raise the city tax rate from $0.41 to $0.4345 per $100, increasing the average annual city tax bill by $17.35 to $353.60. The average taxable value of a home in Peñitas has dropped to $81,386 from last year’s $82,012 average valuation.

Peñitas City Manager Oscar Cuellar explained the Hidalgo County Appraisal District holds the responsibility of estimating the taxable value of a property. Last year, the average amount of city taxes paid by a Peñitas homeowner was $336.25.

Cuellar said though the county handles the property appraisals, there is a possibility the property value saw an almost $1,000 drop due to the amount of colonias that were adopted through the city’s annexation. A total of $24 million worth of real estate has been added within the city’s limits.

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MEDC awards Ruby Red Ventures grants

20130820 RubyRedVentures-Awardees CAB 0013 featureMISSION—Five local entrepreneurs received a shot in the arm this week to boost their plans to grow a business in Mission.

Mission Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) awarded their second round of Ruby Red Ventures grants Tuesday. Ruby Red Ventures is a program developed by MEDC to foster entrepreneurial ventures in Mission. The program awards up to $100,000 annually, with two round of grants totaling $50,000 each.

Alex Meade, chief executive officer of MEDC, said Ruby Red Ventures saw many more applicants this round. He also said presentations by the applications were of a higher quality than their first round, awarded in March of this year.

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STALLED PROJECT: Teachers unhappy with campus conditions

20130823 MHSMission CISD board members have been discussing renovations to the old Mission High School campus since 2008. Three years after discussions began in earnest and five years after the 2008 bond election designating funds for the project, the board is still undecided on what to do.

Teachers attending the district’s August Facilities Committee meeting said they are growing tired of hearing of plans that have been repeatedly discussed but never approved. The problem is the costs keep increasing and the district can’t find enough money to fund all the wanted improvements. The budget presented at the time of the 2008 bond election was $18.3 million. Now, the district is looking at a construction cost of at least $28 million, and a total project cost anywhere from $36 million to $37 million including soft costs such as architectural, engineering, utilities and testing fees.

In February 2010, it looked as though the renovation project was moving forward when ERO Architects was hired to work on the project. Shortly after being hired, ERO began a $635,000 baseline study in June 2010. A group of MHS staff members was gathered to form a renovation committee that assisted the district and architects with a list of recommendations.

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Mission High School burglary suspect arraigned

20130823 TarbuttonMISSION—On Monday, Aug. 19, Mission Police officers responded to Mission High School, 1802 Cleo Dawson, when employees found a broken window. The suspect was arraigned the following day.

According to officials, a window to the library had been shattered, giving the suspect access to the building. Several laptop computers were found on the north side of the building.

After viewing surveillance video, police arrested Christopher Lee Tarbutton, 20, who resides near the high school, as the suspect.

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LJISD approves $367 million budget, pay raises

LA-JOYA-LOGOLA JOYA – After a public hearing, La Joya Independent School District approved a $367 million budget during a recent board meeting. The budget includes pay raises and several special projects including a $9.5 million natatorium.

The $367 million budget includes a general fund balance of $22.6 million. Revenues are estimated at $340 million, while expenditures are budgeted at $351 million.

LJISD receives 74.5 percent of their revenues from state resources. Just over 50 percent of the budget goes toward instruction. About 70 percent goes toward payroll services.

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MCISD Board approves CSCOPE purchase for one more year

MCISDlogoMISSION—The Mission CISD School Board approved to renew the district’s annual license with CSCOPE CORE for one more year. The purchase of $72,000 was cause for discussion due to previous issues with the program.

Executive Director for Secondary Education Maria Del Carmen Garcia explained the purchase only includes framework, which has vertical alignment documents, instructional focus documents and the year at a glance.

“We did base our curricular revisions on this framework and we would like to continue it for one more year,” Garcia said. “We will be creating our own framework during the school year.”

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Buckner gives 650 pair of shoes

20130823 Buckner Missions-Day-in-the-ValleyBuckner International passed out shoes at two La Joya ISD schools this past Saturday. Buckner members and volunteers, and other church volunteers, were on hand to pass out 650 pairs of shoes through their Shoes for Orphan Souls program. The organization visited with children at Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School in Peñitas and Juarez-Lincoln High School in Mission. The shoes were collected last month by 34 churches from across the state and distributed to several communities throughout the state. Another 200 pairs of shoes were distributed to other local children in need throughout the community.

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It’s official: Martin Garza named Mission city manager

20130814 Martin Garza Mission City Manager JMB 0008 FEATUREMISSION—Five months after being appointed interim city manager, Martin Garza has been named city manager for the City of Mission.

Mission City Council removed “interim” from Garza’s title Monday in a unanimous, 5-0 vote and authorized Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas to negotiate the final terms of his contract. Compensation terms had not yet been finalized.

Garza was named interim city manager on Feb. 11 and assumed those duties March 1 when Julio Cerda left the post after eight years to begin his own engineering firm.

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