The Mission Police Department will be able to bring in eight more officers through a federal grant that will pay 75 percent of their salaries for three years.
The Community-Oriented Policing Services grant was one of two grants for the police department approved at the Monday city council meeting.
Police Chief Roberto Dominquez said the COPS grant annually helps growing cities get an adequate number of policemen to serve their needs. The second grant, for $119,577, is a supplemental Stonegarden grant to pay overtime and purchase equipment to aid with border security.
Also Monday, the city council approved an ordinance authorizing the sale of refunding bonds for the waterworks and sewer system bonds approved in 2004. The move will result in a savings of $1,858,000 for the city of Mission. The bonds currently have a principal balance of $10,849,000.
The interest rate on the bonds will drop from 5.5 percent to 3.14 percent. According to Robert Henderson, bond counsel, the move will also free up an additional $1.1 million held in reserve for the city for a total value of $2.9 million, which can be used for other financial needs the city has. Henderson said the total number of years for the bonds did not change, only the amount to be paid for the bonds.
Following executive session, it was announced the City of Mission would settle with Bryan Road LP and the Mission Nursing Home for land acquisition for a Texas Department of Transportation project in the amount of $162,500. The city would pay the money, which will be 99 percent refunded by TxDOT.
Also, using the right of eminent domain, the city will settle with J.W. Arnold and Mary Arnold for a 0.455 acre tract of land out of Lot 29-1,West Addition to Sharyland in the amount of $18,851. In another eminent domain case, the city will settle with Juan Pablo Quintanilla for a 0.175 acres tract of land out of Lot 2 8-1 West Addition to Sharyland in the amount of $44,874.
TxDOT will refund the cost of these two acquisitions.
Tempers flared during open forum when Opal Billman got up and read her statement demanding the city pay her for land she said belonged to her and used by the city to build a road through property she claims to own.
According to Billman, she was involved in divorce proceedings 18 years ago when her husband suddenly died. Instead of returning the property to her following his death, she said the court created an estate of Joe Billman, which is administered by her son, Jason. Since that time several parcels of the land in the Billman Estate have been sold.
Billman has frequently attended Mission City Council meetings as well and Hidalgo County Commissioners Court meetings using the public comment period to voice her grievances over the past months and years. In the past, both city and county elected officials have politely listened to her repeated complaint, often explaining to her that they have no authority to address her legal questions; this would have to be addressed in a court of law.
Mayor Beto Salinas told Billman Monday he would not tolerate her coming to meetings week after week demanding the city of Mission pay her for the roadway. He said the property was purchased by the city from the Billman Estate and the city did not owe her any money.
Words were exchanged when Billman told him it was a matter of “freedom of speech” and she had the right to come and protest what she considered to be the illegal sale of her land.
Salinas motioned to Police Chief Robert Dominguez to remove her from the council chambers.