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Mission approves final budget with one-cent property tax cut

Mission’s city council has given final approval to an overall $116.8 million budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. And though the city expects to spend nearly three quarters of a million dollars more in the upcoming year than this year the budget contains a one-cent property tax decrease from the current year.


On Monday the city council approved a property tax rate of 0.4862 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation, down from the current 0.4962 cents. During a July budget planning session City Manager Martin Garza said the city was able to reduce the tax rate due to a 6 percent increase in property valuations in the current year from last year and an anticipated 3 percent property valuation increase in the coming year. The city’s current total property valuation is $4.2 billion, Garza said.

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The budget gives disabled persons and those 65 years of age or more a $10,000 discount from their property valuation on their residence.


The budget is comprised of just more than $51 million in the general fund, a utility fund of $23.8 million, a golf course fund of $1.2 million, a solid waste fund of $8.7 million, a group health insurance fund of just over $4 million and all other funds totaling just over $28 million with $4.5 million dedicated to paying off bonds.


The council also approved allocating approximately $7.2 million to the Mission Economic Development Corporation and of that $1.1 million is dedicated to debt service.  


The council also approved $317,717 for the Mission Economic Development Authority and $370,000 for the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce. The latter funds are derived from a bed tax on motel rooms and are designated to attract tourism and conventions to the city.  


The budget also sets civil service pay rates for the city’s fire and police departments. Under the pay plan approved Monday fire fighter cadets have a starting salary of $25,000 per year. Their pay increases to $37,000 annually once their training is completed and increases to $42,048 once they complete probation. Fire captains in their first year in the position earn $51,197 and a deputy chief starting pay is $57,220. Because they serve at the pleasure of the mayor and council the fire chief and assistant fire chief are not civil service employees and their pay rates were not included in city documentation.


Police cadets are paid $25,000 while in training and $40,000 once they complete training. The starting pay rate for officers who have completed probation is $45,458. A police lieutenant earns $63,413. As with the fire chief, the police chief’s pay is not listed in city pay documents. Both departments have longevity and seniority pay hikes as well pay increases depending on training and education.  


In other business Monday, the council approved Davila Estate Subdivision’s proposal to construct 22 single- family homes on the city’s northwest side. The homes will be built on 6.3 acres of land near the intersection of West 2 Mile Road and Hillcrest Drive, according to city Planning and Zoning documents. The subdivision, developed by Norma Davila and engineered by Rodriguez Engineering, will have ingress and egress via Hillcrest Drive.


The council also approved an agreement that will allow the city to lease 60 new golf carts for the Shary Municipal Golf Course. The $66,448, three-year contract means there will be  26 more carts available to golfers than were available last year said, Golf Director Mario Flores.


And the council awarded a $187,000 contract to American Contracting U.S.A. to put a new roof on the Mission Community Center, located on Kika de la Garza Loop. Work on the roof is expected to begin immediately said Parks and Recreation Department Director Brad Bentsen.


City opposes SB 4
In it’s final action Monday, the city council passed a resolution against Texas Senate Bill 4, the so-called “amnesty” and “show me your papers” legislation passed during the most recent legislative session. However, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia stayed the law two days before it was scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 1.


The law would have given local law enforcement the authority to ask about a person’s immigration status during routine interactions such as a traffic stop. It also required local officials to comply with requests from federal immigration authorities to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Local law enforcement officials could be fined and removed from office if they did not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.


Critics of the law said it would encourage racial profiling and violate the First and Fourth Amendments. The state was sued by the city of Cenizo in Cenizo v. Texas et al in an attempt to block the bill from being implemented. Previously the cities of Pharr, San Juan, La Joya, Palmview and Rio Grande City passed resolutions joining in the lawsuit along with larger cities such as San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin. Though the Mission resolution “expresses its opposition to the implementation and enforcement of Senate Bill 4 and further supports the efforts of all local governments” opposed to the bill, the city’s resolution does not authorize the city attorney to join in the lawsuit against it.


The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Sept. 22 regarding Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request the stay be lifted.

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