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Salinas vows lower taxes

20140701 MISSION Mayor-swearing-in 2184 featureThe council chamber was packed as Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas took the oath of office for another four years as leader of the city.

Since 2009, the tax rate has dropped from 56.6 cents per $100 property valuation to 52.6 cents. Tuesday, Salinas vowed to drop it even lower.

“Hopefully in the next four years, we’re going down to about 48 cents per 100; we’re at 52 cents,” Salinas said. “Some people might not believe that we can do that, but we’re going to do it.”

Salinas won a runoff election Saturday, June 21, with 57 percent of the votes cast. There were 2,669 ballots in support of Salinas and 1,993 in support of challenger Jaime Gutierrez, a local businessman.

In May, Salinas just missed avoiding a runoff with 49 percent of the votes. Collectively, Gutierrez and third candidate Dr. John Guerra received 2,698 votes to Salinas’ 2,590. Gutierrez had 31 percent, or 1,640 of the votes.

Salinas, first elected in 1998, will have served 20 years at the end of this four-year term.

“Sometimes people might not like the way I do things, but somehow I get the message from upstairs that I have to change,” Salinas said. “I made some changes some time ago … changes that I thought needed to be made, and God gave me the courage to do it.”

It was necessary to create the Mission Economic Development Corporation in place of the Mission Economic Development Authority, he said, adding that he’s thankful for Alex Meade, director of the MEDC.

The city council, planning staff and City Manager Martin Garza, named last year, also are doing good work, Salinas said.

“We have now Martin, who is a very straight man as far as doing things, and I like that,” the mayor said.

The city recently announced a federal grant to help fund eight new officers to the police force and Salinas said he also plans to improve the fire department.

In the past few years, the city secured more than $100 million from the state and federal government to work on projects like the Bryan Road expansion and overpass, the international bridge expansion to Farm-to-Market 1016 (Anzalduas Highway) and the expansion of Inspiration Road from U.S. 83 to Mile 3.

At 67, Salinas has said he’s a rancher and businessman at heart, but his passion is running the city of Mission.

He was born in Cuevitas and moved to West Texas after graduating from Rio Grande City, though he moved back to the Valley shortly after, starting work at Ceballos Funeral Home in McAllen and moving on to start his own ambulance service. His business interests have expanded.

Salinas has lived in Mission 28 years. Prior to that, he served as the community’s county commissioner from 1980 to 1992. It was at the community’s request, Salinas told the Progress Times, that he first ran for mayor of Mission in 1998 when he found out former Mayor Richard Perez would not run for re-election.

“We won another election,” Salinas said. “I still make the commitment that we’re going to be here on a full-time basis. We’re going to be here to listen to people and do the right things, not to lie to anybody about how we run the city.”

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