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Mission CAC amends by-laws during public hearing

The Mission Citizens Advisory Committee met through a Zoom video conference this week and held a public hearing before amending their by-laws and expanding the participation range of members.

Jo Anne Longoria, the Community Development Director for Mission who oversees the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, presented a few items to the committee, including Chairman Lorenzo Garza and members Roxanne Mendez, Jorge Martinez, Frank Cadena, Roy Vela and Rosie Lopez.

No members of the public participated in the public hearing or the regular called meeting, which were held in conjunction. 

Longoria asked the committee to acknowledge a potential revised request from CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Hidalgo County, a volunteer program where advocates are screened and highly trained to “represent and advocate for a child’s best interests in the child protection system.” The request would impact the needs of the city for the CDBG Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget.

“They [CASA] had originally requested $2,000, and now they’re increasing their request to $4,000,” Longoria said. “This is due to the change in determining their service area.”

CASA of Hidalgo County, according to Longoria, has been seeing “a lot more” people from Mission as of late.

“They would like to increase their request – those items will be discussed at the next meeting, when we determine the funding allocations,” Longoria said. “It will be accepted if you all approve it.”

Chairman Garza asked if that funding increase would then increase the number of volunteers – as it stands currently, CASA provides four volunteers/supervisors in the Mission area. Longoria stated that there is an increase of participants and clients being served in the program.

“So they’ll be spending more time serving those individuals,” Longoria said. “Right now, they have six to 12 recipients of that program – they’re not increasing their staff, they’re increasing their workload. It would be possibly 18 to 24 [participants].”

The CAC acknowledged and accepted the request, on the basis that the needs have increased in the Mission service area.

The committee also approved revisions to the Citizen Participation Plan, which Longoria said has existed for a number of years. As it stood prior to the meeting, 12 members comprised the Citizens Advisory Committee.

“It outlines the process that we follow for allowing our citizens and including citizens in providing input for the CDBG program,” Longoria said, noting they have been discussing the changes for a number of months. “The composition of the board consists of 12 members. We’re proposing to go to a nine-member body.”

The Mission mayor and city council selects members of the committee, who served from the four districts within the city. Longoria proposed that the new nine-member board be at-large, so they can come from anywhere in Mission.

“We would not have to restrict the members that reside in each of the quadrants,” Longoria said. “This plan is to include, encourage and develop the community’s interest and responsibility. Therefore, it is in the best interest to go to a pool of at-large members, and quorum would now consist of five versus seven.”

In response to COVID-19, they also revised the public hearings so residents and citizens can also participate through virtual public hearings or over the phone during declared disaster procedures. As it stands, even if the municipality is not in a disaster declaration, residents can still participate virtually or over the phone if they let the CAC and CDBG program know in advance.

Following the approval of the revisions, the committee amended the by-laws and plan to reflect the changes.

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