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Mission struggles with budget woes

Web-MissionCityHallBldg JB 730Times are getting tough at Mission City Hall. Preliminary budget figures show the city faces a fund balance falling from $9.7 million last September to just $550,000 next year. Despite difficult financial times ahead, Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, in a city budget workshop on finance this week, insisted on reducing the city’s ad valorem tax rate another penny this year, as was done one year ago.

However, the city is required to maintain a fund balance of at least two months of operating expenses for the General Fund. Using preliminary budget numbers, that figure is estimated to be about $5,908,000, according to City of Mission Finance Director Janie Flores, leaving a shortfall of $5,358,000 projected for next year.

Salinas instructed city staff at the workshop to “get down to the nitty gritty,” and find a way to reduce expenses to meet the budget. “If not, just get with us (city council) and we’ll do the cutting. Don’t ask for anything we can’t afford.” he said.

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Mission considers cutting back vacation benefits

Some City of Mission employees have banked over 2,000 hours of unused vacation pay that, under current city policy, will be due the employee at time of retirement if that employee has over 30 years of service.

City Finance Director Janie Flores, responding to an Open Records request, said the city owed employees outstanding balances of $1,500,185 for accrued vacation hours and $1,960,897 for accrued sick leave, as of Sept. 30, 2011.

In a workshop held Monday to review City of Mission personnel policies, a discussion of capping excessive hours of banked vacation pay soon led to suggestions to reduce the number of vacation days awarded employees in the first place.

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MPD arrests six in connection with Southwest Hay & Feed burglary

MISSION – At least six have been arrested and charged after an early Monday morning burglary. A total of 25 firearms were stolen when individuals broke into Southwest Hay and Feed located at 703 W. 2 Mile Line. One firearm was an assault rifle.

As of Tuesday night, Mission Police Department had six men in custody in connection with the burglary of Southwest Hay & Feed. Investigators also recovered 13 of the handguns, the assault rifle, drugs and a minivan involved in the burglary.

Mission Police Chief Martin Garza said MPD is continuing the investigation and looking for the remaining weapons. Some of the individuals in custody were not part of the burglary but did have possession of the firearms, said Garza. All the suspects believed to be involved in the burglary have been arrested.

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RMA proposes vehicle registration fees to pay for tollway

EDINBURG — The Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority asked the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court during a July 17 workshop if it would consider letting it use $10 in vehicle registration fees for the next 30 years so it could sell bonds to develop the southern tollway, which would connect the international bridges to Expressway 83.

HCRMA financial advisor, Richard Ramirez, with First Southwest, told the commission that the vehicle registration fees would be used to purchase existing right of ways and to help the HCRMA pay off its existing bank line, allowing it to move forward with the development of SH 365 and the International Bridge Trade Corridor.

“The contemplated structure is to issue $30 million as soon as possible, with your approval, and $27 million the following year for a total of $57 million. It’s a 30-year structure for the development, and initially some of the construction,” he said. “The county’s financial support would be to provide credit assistance, but not to do anything other than to use your credit.”

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Chamber mixer at Yoko’s Sushi

MISSION – The Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce will hold its monthly mixer on July 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at La Playita. La Playita is located at 2120 E. Business Hwy. 83, Mission.

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Two men charged with burglary

20120713 MPD PurseTheft-AgentGunstolen-Ring Arraignment CAB 0010 EditedForWEBMISSION – Two men were charged Friday afternoon for burglary of vehicle. One of the men was also charged with theft of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon after a purse he has been accused of stealing was found to contain an off-duty Border Patrol agent’s personal firearm.

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ICE agent shot, suspects held without bond

HARGILL — A father and his two sons remain in custody after being arrested for the early morning July 3 shooting of ICE agent Kelton Harrison at the intersection of Farm to Market 493 and Cemetery Road, according to the criminal complaint.

Pedro Alvarado, 41, and his son Arnoldo Alvarado, 18, were charged with attempted capital murder charges. Pedro Alvarado’s 16-year-old son is also facing attempted capital murder charges in the 449th State District Court. The juvenile is undergoing a psychological evaluation to determine whether he is mentally fit to be tried as an adult.

Pedro and Arnoldo Alvarado were denied bond July 10.

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Palmview PD starts Skywatching

20120710 PalmviewCrimeStoppers-CAB 8021Skywatch is a mobile elevated surveillance tower with cameras that can watch an area 24/7. Progress Times Photo by Carina A. BrunsonPALMVIEW – Palmview Police Department recently acquired a new Skywatch mobile surveillance tower. They will now be able to watch areas from 30 feet above the ground.

Skywatch is a mobile elevated surveillance tower with cameras that can watch an area 24/7. The tower can reach a height of 45 feet, but because of South Texas winds, it will probably not be raised more than 30 feet, said Palmview code enforcement officer David Nacianceno.

He said Skywatch is another safety measure the city is implementing to help deter crime.

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