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City of Mission commits to participate in TxDOT construction project of Taylor Road

This article originally appeared in the June 1 edition of the Progress Times

At this week’s council meeting, the city approved Resolution #1551 establishing a commitment to participate in the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) construction project that will expand Taylor Road from Business 83 to I-2 (US 83). This resolution also authorized the mayor to execute the Local Transportation Project Advance Funding Agreement.

The City of Mission has secured $15 million to build Taylor Rd., and interlocal agreements about construction have been signed by Mission, the City of McAllen and Precincts 2 and 3 of Hidalgo County. There are two projects, one from the expressway up to Business 83, and the other is from Business 83 North to Mile 2 Rd.

City of Mission logoThese joined projects will turn Taylor, a two-lane road, into a five-lane road with curbs and drainage. The advance funding agreement is with TxDOT so all federal funds can be reimbursed to the city for the acquisition of right of way, as well as construction.

The project has already received environmental clearance, and according to L & G Engineering, who will be overseeing the project, the design for Taylor Rd. is almost complete.

With this agreement, the City of Mission can now begin buying the land for the first project (from the expressway up to BUS 83) and requesting reimbursements from TxDOT.

The next city council meeting, which was originally scheduled for June 11, was pushed back to June 18, because it would allow time for the canvassing of votes for the runoff election to take place before the meeting. Canvassing will begin at 3:30 p.m., with the regular called meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Mayor and council also discussed an item on planning and zoning recommendations that would authorize the city to enter into a reclaimed water use agreement with Cimarron Country Club. Robert Salinas, the Director of Public Works, presented the item.

“The City of Mission is currently working on the Wastewater Treatment expansion,” Robert Salinas said. “And a component on the expansion is to have the capability to reuse water flowing from the Wastewater Treatment Plant for irrigation purposes.”

According to Robert Salinas, Cimarron has requested services and agreed to pay a minimum annual charge for the share of cost for the construction, as well as the water delivered in the agreement. The city would charge the country club a minimum annual payment of $54,000 to be made in 12 equal-monthly payments of $4,500 on the first day of each month. Staff and the city manager recommended approval of the item.

On the original agreement with Cimarron, there was an allotment set about the cost. In the revised agreement, there is no allotment set, so the charge would remain $4,500 per month, no matter how much water the country club uses for irrigation purposes.

This would be a long-term agreement, set for the next 25 years.

The total project cost would be $2 million, and a line would also be run to Bensten State Park. $600,000 would be invested from the city for Cimarron.

To pay for this, the City of Mission would take a low-interest loan from the Water Development Board (which is already part of the Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion project) and collect the $4,500 from Cimarron, making back about $1 million over 18 and a half years.

“I don’t think you can use that money,” Mayor Salinas said. “The money for low-income housing, from low-income development, into a country club. I’d hate for people later on to come out and say we were spending money that goes into the low-income areas, that we get from the Water Development Board, into a country club.”

Mayor Salinas went on to say that money spent on Cimarron should come from the General Fund.

“We’re going to get criticized for using moneys for the country club,” Mayor Salinas said. “To be able to get their grass green because they can’t get it green enough. So we’re trying here to invest money from our city to be able to help them with their problem with their grass for their golfers.”

The mayor said that he’d rather that money go “to people that deserve it,” and Cimarron should pay for the
irrigation themselves.

“Why should we spend money on a country club and then take 25 years to get it back?” Mayor Salinas asked. “I just don’t see a good deal for the city.”

The mayor suggested that perhaps the Mission Economic Development Corporation should pay for agreement, and that they should meet with Alex Meade about it. The item was tabled, and it is unclear when the item will next be brought up for discussion.

“I know everybody is going to say, ‘well why didn’t you say this before?’,” Mayor Salinas said. “Because I’ve been thinking about it. And I’ve been trying to convince myself that it’s the right thing to do. But I can’t see that it’s the right thing to do.”

After it was tabled, Ortega-Ochoa made a comment about the discussion.

“I think these types of scenarios are something that I would like to speak about in some type of meeting,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “We’ve been planning, the city employees have been talking about this for a couple of months already. And it’s the first time that I’m hearing about it.”

Mayor Salinas interrupted Ortega-Ochoa during her comment, and told her he would buy her a cup of coffee and explain it to her and tell her about it. The councilwoman did not respond after that, saying, “Thank you, Mayor.”

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