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Mayor opposes hospital district tax burden

betosalinasA new tax could soon be imposed on all Hidalgo County taxpayers and Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas is blaming the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court and the Valley’s state legislators. Those officials have pushed for the formation of a county hospital district with a potential ad valorem tax rate of 75 cents.

If a tax rate of just 25 cents is imposed on local taxpayers, that will cost $100 million per year, Salinas says.

Hidalgo County is expected to hold a referendum for voters to authorize formation of a county hospital district this fall. The hospital district would not just be for indigent care, but would also create a new tax to fund the proposed RGV medical school. When the formation of a RGV medical school was proposed, many people asked, “How will you pay for it?” But very few specifics were provided the media concerning funding.

Despite claims by State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who helped write the legislation creating the new medical school, and others, that the hospital district tax rate will not exceed 25 cents per $100 in property valuation, Salinas says it’s not true.

Why would they set the tax rate cap at 75 cents? asked Salinas during an interview Wednesday with Progress Times publisher Jim Brunson.

“You know why they show 75 cents. It’s because it’s a reality. That’s what it’s going to cost. Seventy-five cents will be happening in the next three or four years.”

Even if the county commissioners were to limit the tax rate to 25 cents, that’s $100 million our taxpayers are going to have to pay — every year, he added.

The reason they want the hospital district, Salinas said, is really to fund the proposed medical school and to benefit certain people who stand to make millions of dollars off the deal.

“If they pass this order to have a hospital district,” the county commissioners will “be known as the biggest tax increasers in the state of Texas. None of them should be re-elected,” Salinas added.

Mayor Salinas said he wants them to take this issue back to the state legislature and lower the tax rate cap from 75 cents to 25 cents, and then have the election to approve formation of the hospital district in May of next year. He is also insisting that the City of Mission have representation on the new hospital district board.

Last week, county commissioners decided that the new board would be a seven-person board with five members appointed by county commissioners or the county judge and two representatives appointed by the cities. McAllen and Edinburg appeared before the commissioners seeking a place on the proposed board.

“We’ve got to tell the commissioners court not to approve [formation of the hospital district],” Salinas said.  

The officials seeking funding for the proposed medical school have asked Mission to pay in $500,000 per year for ten years. But Salinas said Mission may not pay anything if they don’t have representation on the board.

Under a proposed funding agreement for the new medical school, Hidalgo County would pay $1 million per year for the next 10 years. McAllen is to pay $2 million per year, Edinburg $1 million per year, and Mission and Pharr would each pay $500,000 per year for 10 years. But Salinas said Mission has not entered into an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding).

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