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20120720 Drainage-BudgetEDINBURG — A little more than $10 million would go to projects in Mission if a bond referendum totaling nearly $169 million makes it to voters in November. However, officials have said that improvements to the county’s drainage system — including a series of gates to control flow — would benefit all of Hidalgo County.

While nothing is set in stone, should the bond issue get on the ballot in November, voters could have a choice between a $68 million bond issue and a $168 million bond issue, which would result in two different tax increases.

“That’s what we talked about in the workshop,” Drainage District Manager Godfrey Garza said July 18. “We’re seeking to have a final direction in the next two to three weeks.”

A $68 million bond issue would result in a two-cent tax increase. For a home valuation at $100,000, that comes out to $20 a year. The other option would be a $168 million bond issue that would result in a five-cent tax increase per $100 valuation. For a home valued at $100,000, this would result in a tax increase of $50 a year.

“The $100 million would be used as collateral to go to the water development board to borrow the $100 million at zero percent interest, based on current rates,” Garza said.

In this case, $100 million would go toward the Raymondville Drainage project, but that money is reimbursable by the federal government. The remaining amount would be used to improve infrastructure, including adding more pumps and gates as well as widening some canals and repairing older infrastructure.

County Judge Ramon Garcia said now is the time to act and try to get funding for the projects, which he has called the number one priority.

“The public needs to be aware that the $168 million, that the county is obligated for $68 million. The $100 million will be paid for by the government,” he said. “That’s why I feel this is something we need to do and we need to do it now.”

In 2011, Hidalgo County Commissioners formed a 25-member drainage committee, which recommended the bond issue in May. The deadline to call a bond issue is August 20.

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