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Mission halts dependent insurance

MISSION —The Mission City Council clarified its intention to seek different health insurance provider for the next fiscal year to pay premiums only for employees, not their dependents.

Mayor Norberto "Beto" Salinas on Monday said he checked around the Rio Grande Valley and found that with the exception of Hidalgo County, none of the cities or school districts supplemented the cost of dependent health insurance.

"We simply cannot afford to continue doing so," said the mayor. "The cost of dependent care has risen to $900 to $1,000 a family.... We are going to work with an insurance broker to find a policy that will provide affordable dependent insurance to our employees next year."

This year, the city will continue to supplement dependents, but that changes in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, he added.

The city engaged Alamo Insurance Group for consulting services to find employer paid group life and health insurance with dependent coverage that employees can afford.

In other items at this week's meeting, Finance Director Janie Flores presented numerous budget amendments.

"We have to look at unpaid expenditures in each budget category before making new allocations to that category," Flores said of the amendments.

Flores explained that while it seemed the budget had a lot of amendments, some of those amendments were just establishing funds for new grants or certificates of obligation or carrying funds left for specific projects that had not yet been expended over to the new fiscal year.

The general fund was amended by $144,165 to pay for purchases that have not been paid. Another $100,000 was transferred to capital projects to complete construction of the police/fire substation. The utility budget was amended by $8,618 to reflect carryover reserves. Carryover reserves from the 2001 water/sewer revenue bonds were reflected in the current budget. Approximately $34,930 was carried over from the 2006-refunding bond. Nearly $5.5 million was carried over from the 2009 Jr. Revenue Bond.

The police department state sharing fund carried over $850 while the police department federal sharing fund carried over $364,412 to pay for recent equipment purchases, and $11,398 were carried over from a grant for purchase of bulletproof vests.

Salinas questioned a $632,282 carryover from the 2007 certificates of obligation for construction of a park planned for the northwest side of the city. He told Parks Director Julian Gonzalez he wanted to see that money spent in some way for that park within the next 90 days.

Gonzalez said the money could be used to create ball fields.

The fire department received a $100,000 Texas Forest Services Grant. A 2008 Fire Department SHSP grant was carried forward in the amount of $34,859. A new SHSP grant amounted to $103,270 and will be used for machinery and equipment.

Community Development carried over $159,370 for fiscal year 2010-2011. The department also carried over $581,081 for projects this fiscal year. This was added to the current budget of $2,416 for a total of $563,497.

A budget for the 2010 certificate of obligations in the amount of approximately $3 million was created for the purchase of various pieces of equipment.

In other items, Salinas objected to a proposed interlocal agreement between the city and the Mission Consolidated Independent School District for printing services. While the school district promised rates less expensive than other printers, Salinas said it would be troublesome given that there are printing businesses within the city that pay taxes and support the city with their earnings. Since MCISD doesn't pay taxes, he said he'd rather use the outside printers. No action was taken on the agreement.

Other approved action items include:

• A budget decrease for the Mission Chamber of Commerce's budget by $10,000 after the city did advertising for the chamber. The chamber budget was dropped from $325,000 to $315,000.

• An interlocal agreement between the city and the Hidalgo County Head Start Program. The $6,000 annual lease for facilities at 115 Mayberry Rd. begins Jan. 1.

• A change order for additional electrical circuits at the new police and fire substation in the amount of $21,009.

• Mission Police Department engaging with New World Systems Record Management for software upgrades for $84,960. The company is sole provider of the police software.

• A 2010 Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Block grant for Mission police in the amount of $10,000.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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