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20131007 LA-JOYA TIRZ 0410LA JOYA—The city of La Joya is moving forward with plans for a tax increment reinvestment zone first discussed in 2008.

The zone, also known as TIRZ, was approved at the Board of Aldermen’s Monday meeting. Through the zone, the city hopes to bring in more than $5 million over the next 20 years for infrastructure development, but it still must be approved by Hidalgo County Commissioners Court.

According to Lance Elliot, city consultant with TIF Services of South Texas, almost all of the property within the zone is vacant. Regardless, taxes of businesses within the zone would not be affected because it only affects new development. The money from the zone only can be used for public improvements within the zone.

Elliot said he included property for a planned a future expansion of a diversion to U.S. 83.

The money won’t come rolling in right off the bat, Elliot cautioned. He said Hidalgo first instituted a zone in 2006 and recorded $3,000. Last year, the check had increased to $360,000.

“I always tell people that TIRZ money is slow money,” he said. “It takes a while to build up.”

But Elliott said the current county judge doesn’t like TIRZ zones. County agreements on TIRZ zones have dropped from 40 years to 20 years. Instead, Hidalgo County is preparing to form a transportation reinvestment zone.

That’s why the city needs to act quickly, Elliot said.

“Once they create the transportation reinvestment zone, they’ve dedicated all their extra revenue to that,” Elliot said. “The fact of the matter is your city has capital improvement needs. That’s money you’re going to have to spend anyway.”

One hitch in the plan centers on a boundary currently in dispute with Peñitas. A lawsuit is pending, and Elliot said the county won’t touch land involved in a legal tug-of-war. Once the lawsuit is settled, the land can be added to the zone, he said.

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