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State senator files bill to stop Agua SUD from holding budget workshops on South Padre Island

This article appeared in the Feb. 12 issue of the Progress Times.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, filed a bill Tuesday that would stop the Agua Special Utility District from holding budget workshops on South Padre Island.

The utility board held budget workshops on South Padre Island in 2018 and 2019, when the district spent about $13,300.

Senate Bill 630, which Hinojosa filed on Tuesday, would require the utility board to hold budget meetings within the utility district.

“A meeting at which the board or the general manager discusses the annual budget of the district must be held inside the district,” according to the bill.

Hinojosa introduced the bill with support from utility board President Homer Tijerina, who didn’t attend the 2019 budget workshop because he was concerned about the cost and inability of the public to attend.

Senate Bill 630 would also move utility board elections from May to November.

Agua SUD holds utility board elections in May, when many cities and school districts hold nonpartisan elections. The bill would move Agua SUD elections to November, when partisan elections typically increase voter turnout.

Along with moving elections to November, the bill would require Agua SUD to contract with the Hidalgo County Elections Department.

Agua SUD already contracts with the Elections Department, which provides the utility district with voting machines, poll workers and election judges. The Agua SUD board, though, briefly discussed ways to hold an independent election in May.

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