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Community Bike Share Program, latest national trend in mobility, to be added to Edinburg’s growing transportation system with help from Edinburg Economic Development Corporation

Featured: The Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, on Tuesday, January 3, 2016, continued to build on the city’s growing transportation system by moving forward with another cutting-edge trend in mobility – a Community Bike Share Program. In general, a bike sharing program is defined as an innovative transportation program, ideal for short distance point-to-point trips providing users the ability to pick up a bicycle at any self-serve bike-station and return it to any other bike station located within the system’s service area. The station shown here is on the Edinburg Campus of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. 

Photograph By DAVID PIKE

With their full support, the mayor and city council members authorized the city manager to enter into an Interlocal Cooperation Contract between the city and university that will allow UTRGV to manage the Community Bike Share Program. “The City of Edinburg and UTRGV have been working on a Community Bike Share Program that will serve both the university community and the residents and visitors of Edinburg,” said Assistant City Manager Sonia Marroquín. “A bike share system can provide improved, safer bicycle and pedestrian commuting and recreational opportunities. This program will have a positive impact on community wellness by encouraging exercise and replacing some automobile trips with bicycle trips.” The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is scheduled to pay for half of the total, two-year contract, which will not exceed $68,400, effective January 3, 2017 and ending on January 2, 2019. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. “Among our many assets, Edinburg already features Interstate Highway 69, the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg, and a planned transit facility between City Hall and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the mayor, city council, and Edinburg EDC and its board of directors, in conjunction with our legislative teams in Austin and Washington, D.C., continue to seek state and federal funds for these and other important infrastructure to serve our community, improve the quality of life, promote economic growth, and create more jobs,” said Agustín García, Jr. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related.

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More Texas legislators file legislation that would prevent controversy sparked by McAllen contract with Enrique Iglesias, reports Rep. Terry Canales

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, preparing to address the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Report Card Luncheon, held on Thursday, August 18, 2016, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton McAllen Convention Center.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Additional measures have been filed by state lawmakers that would prevent Texas governments from approving certain types of contracts whose payments are allowed to be kept secret, said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, a strong supporter of the people’s right to know, who has already introduced similar legislation that will promote transparency in government. Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, on Tuesday, January 3, 2016, each introduced two pieces of identical legislation, representing four individual bills, to close loopholes in the Texas Public Information Act that were created by recent Texas Supreme Court rulings. A key portion of the Capriglione/Watson proposals share the intent of Canales’ House Bill 349, which would require local governments in Texas to reveal the amount of public funds paid in part or in whole for parades, concerts, or other events open to the general public. Canales drafted his HB 349 following growing concern about a stand taken by McAllen city government that it is prevented in disclosing the fee it paid to Enrique Iglesias, one of the best-selling Latin recording artists in the world, who was the star attraction for a December 5, 2015 concert, held at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium, as part of McAllen Holiday Parade organized by the City of McAllen.

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Agreement to keep congressional office in Edinburg, proposal to share contract fee for federal liaison team in Washington, D.C. set for action on Tuesday, January 3 by City Council

Featured: Congressman Vicente González, D-McAllen, poses with constituents Matthew and Claudia Martínez, also of McAllen, during González’ election night victory event on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton McAllen Convention Center.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Ongoing strategies to remain a center of legislative influence on behalf of its constituents will be considered on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, which is scheduled to take action on two cost-sharing measures designed to keep the House District 15 congressional office in the city and to continue with the services of a federal liaison team in Washington, D.C., the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Among the items set on the City Council agenda for its first regular meeting of 2017 are efforts to cover half of the lease for the district office of Congressman Vicente González, D-McAllen, and for the city and the Edinburg EDC to split the costs for Holland & Knight, LLP, located in Washington, D.C, which is serving as the legislative liaison for the two local government entities. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert, and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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Edinburg’s Downtown, Courthouse Square, City Hall, UTRGV, and $150 million in business and residential structures to benefit significantly from $20 million in state funding to improve drainage

Featured: Top images – Two perspectives of the $35.6 million Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building (IEASB), designed by Overland Partners Architects of San Antonio, and to be constructed by Vaughn Construction of San Antonio. Bottom image – the southern portion of the Edinburg Campus of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, with the location of the IEASB highlighted in burnt orange for easy reference. With about 53,400 gross square feet of space, the facility will be located in the heart of the campus, west of the Library and just north of the Student Union. 

Artist Renderings Courtesy of OVERLAND PARTNERS ARCHITECTS

The availability of $20 million in state funds to significantly improve the drainage of heavy rains in downtown Edinburg will benefit many residences, businesses, government facilities, residences, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, including its School of Medicine, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The $20 million windfall, part of $400 million in state money budgeted for numerous Texas roadway projects in Hidalgo County, has been made possible as a result of ongoing efforts by the City of Edinburg, Hidalgo County, and the Edinburg EDC to build up the infrastructure for the proposed $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse, which will built downtown, on the county-owned Courthouse Square. “We are very excited and very happy that along with this great new project ($150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse) that is happening in our city, we have $20 million that is basically being spent in the city of Edinburg for drainage,” said Mayor García. “This money for the drainage will help alleviate decades of flooding in the downtown area, not just on the Courthouse Square, but in areas surrounding the square that have flooded in the past.” Precinct 4 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios, who represents Edinburg, said the state money is being funneled through the Weslaco-based Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is a federally-funded program that addresses the mobility goals of the cities in Hidalgo County. “We were very fortunate to secure $20 million for downtown Edinburg. This project will focus on road and drainage improvements right at the Courthouse Square, westbound all the way to the main outfall at Jackson Road and State Highway 107,” said Palacios. “Beneficiaries of this project are the commercial interests, the city, the university and the Courthouse Square.” According to Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García, the estimated value of the commercial and residential properties that will benefit from the drainage improvements – not including UTRGV or county or city facilities in the area – is estimated at $150 million. The engineering work is already underway, the county judge added. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. Agustín García, Jr., Mayor Richard García and Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García are not related.

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Edinburg sets $30 million contribution limit to new Hidalgo County Courthouse, but ensures new justice center will remain in the city’s downtown

Featured, from left: Councilmember David Torres; Councilmember Richard Molina; Precinct 4 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Mayor Richard García; Precinct 1 Hidalgo County Commissioner A.C. Cuellar, Jr.; Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr.; Mayor Pro Tem J.R. Betancourt; and Precinct 3 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joe Flores. The elected leaders posed for a portrait on Monday, December 12, 2016 in the Council Chamber at Edinburg City Hall following approving an agreement between the City of Edinburg and Hidalgo County on a Memorandum of Understanding where Edinburg pledged to provide a maximum of $30 million, or 20 percent of the cost, whichever is less, towards the construction of a planned $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse in downtown Edinburg, next to the existing courthouse.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

As the calendar year approached its final weeks, a major step was taken by the City of Edinburg to help guarantee that a proposed $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse will be built downtown, next to the existing courthouse, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The planned justice center will dramatically increase far-reaching economic growth and improve the quality-of-life for that region of the city, Edinburg and Hidalgo County elected leaders predict. With a unanimous vote by both the Edinburg City Council and the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court, the two governing entities on Monday, December 12, 2016 approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which memorialized the commitments made by the County of Hidalgo and the City of Edinburg for the new Hidalgo County Courthouse to remain in the historic heart of the city. According to U.S. legal.com, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) may be used as a confirmation of agreed upon terms when an oral agreement has not been reduced to a formal contract. It may also be a contract used to set forth the basic principles and guidelines under which the parties will work together to accomplish their goals. “We finally have come to an agreement with Hidalgo County to build a new courthouse. It has been long in the process,” Mayor Richard García told journalists following the approval of the MOU. “As one of our councilmembers mentioned during our meeting earlier today, we started on this in 2013. Here we are, 2017 is just a few days away, and we have finally ironed out a lot of the wrinkles.” In the coming months, city and county leaders plan to finalize the language and goals of the MOU into a more formal, legally-binding document, known as an interlocal agreement. In general, an interlocal agreement is a written contract between local government agencies such as a city, a county, a school board or a constitutional office. Any time a public service involves the joint operations and budgets of two or more local government agencies, an interlocal agreement must be drawn up and approved by all sides, with each government’s governing body – a school board, a city council, a county commission – enacting the agreement by vote. Prior to the approval of the MOU, key issues included making sure Edinburg’s financial commitment was acceptable to the county, and that Edinburg would not have to pay more than $30 million towards construction of the new courthouse, which could cost $150 million to build. The city’s contribution could be less than $30 million, if the price tag for the new courthouse comes in lower than $150 million. In that case, the City of Edinburg – along with the Edinburg EDC, which will cover half of the city’s contribution for the construction of the proposed new courthouse – would only have to pay 20 percent of the final price, according to the MOU. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

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Edinburg led major Valley economies with 4.57 percent growth rate from January through October 2016

Featured, from left: Councilmember David Torres and Councilmember Richard Molina on Monday, December 12, 2016, at Edinburg City Hall prior to a joint work session between the Edinburg City Council and the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding relating to the city’s participation and financial contributions to a planned $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse to be built downtown.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Edinburg led major Valley economies with 4.57 percent growth rate from January through October 2016, compared with the same period last year, while statewide, all cities combined showed only a one percent increase, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. For the month of October 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy – as measured by local sales taxes generated from purchases of eligible goods and services – had the third-best showing among the Valley’s largest cities, coming in with a 4.86 percent improvement over the month of October 2015. Those figures are based on sales made in October 2016 by businesses that report tax monthly. During the first 10 months of 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $21,171,250.82 in local sales taxes, compared with $20,245,270.46 for January through October 2015, representing an improvement of 4.57 percent. For October 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,644,571.30 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,568,278.46 during the same period in 2015, representing the improvement of 4.86 percent, also according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg EDC uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert, and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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Total construction in Edinburg passes $199 million from January through November 2016

Featured, from left: Mayor Richard García, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., and Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 4 Joseph Palacios on Monday, December 12, 2016 during a joint city council/county commissioners work session, held at Edinburg City Hall, on the proposed $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

With one month to go in 2016, construction activities in Edinburg just barely missed the $200 million mark for the year, compared with almost $128 million during the first 11 months of last year, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Those totals do not include the value of any building-related activities at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and the UTRGV School of Medicine in Edinburg because the state government, not the city, oversees all construction at the Edinburg campus. New single-family homes and multi-family residences (duplexes to apartments) continue to lead the way from January through November 2016, having been issued building permits for a combined total of $119,303,812 in the value of their construction. That figure is more than double the $51,916,366 combined value of single-family homes and multi-family residences approved for construction during the same period last year. Year-to-date (January through November 2016), building permits were issued for 437 single-family residences, valued at $56,586,297 compared with 307 single family residences, valued at $43,652,244 from January through November 2015. Year-to-date (January through November 2016), building permits were issued for 255 multi-family residences, representing 980 units, valued at $63,717,415, compared with 42 multi-family residences, representing 83 units, valued at $8,264,122, from January through November 2015. In general, a building permit is legal permission given by the City of Edinburg, through the Code Enforcement Department, to erect, construct, renovate, maintain, or conduct any other specified activity on any building or structure, or on any installations or facilities therein. The term “building permit” includes but is not limited to building permits, electrical permits, mechanical permits, and plumbing permits. The Edinburg EDC, whose Executive Director is Agustín García, Jr., is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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Joint session set for noon on Monday for courthouse, separate hearing set for La Sienna Apartments at Edinburg City Hall

Featured, from left: Harvey Rodríguez, Jr., Vice President, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, Mayor Pro Tem J.R. Betancourt, and Mayor Richard García, discussing strategies for business growth and job creation at the Edinburg EDC office on Thursday, December 8, 2016. Mayor García also serves as President of the EEDC Board of Directors.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

City of Edinburg and Hidalgo County leaders are scheduled to meet at noon on Monday, December 12, 2016, at Edinburg City Hall to review and take possible action on plans to build a new county courthouse in the city’s downtown region, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. In a separate, but related issue dealing with construction of another major facility in Edinburg, the City Council also will hold a public hearing regarding program guidelines of the Edinburg Housing Finance Corporation – which is an extension of the City Council – that could lead to the financing of a major upscale residential complex known as La Sienna Apartments. Both meetings, which will be held in the Council Chambers of Edinburg City Hall, which is located at 415 East University Drive, are open to the public. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC.

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Protecting the poor from being jailed for traffic tickets, making it more difficult for property tax rates to increase, among bills filed by Rep. Canales

Featured, left: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, takes questions from local journalists on Thursday, August 18, 2016, at the Legislative Report Card luncheon, hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, at the Embassy Suites in McAllen.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

A plan that would better protect Texans from being jailed because they are too poor to pay fines for Class C misdemeanors and legislation that would would make it harder for local governments to increase property tax rates have been filed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, for action by the Texas Legislature in the coming months. Canales, who was reelected on November 8, 2016 to his third two-year term, on Monday, November 14, 2016, officially began introducing many of his proposals for the 85th Texas Legislature, which returns to work on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, for its 140-day regular session. “My proposals and upcoming votes during the upcoming legislative session are based on what is right and just,” said Canales. “But just as important, my staff and I are here to help constituents from all walks of life to learn the state legislative process so they, too, can be effective players at the Texas Capitol without having to leave home.”

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Edinburg City Council and Hidalgo County Commissioners Court to meet Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at noon to discuss new Hidalgo County Courthouse, announces Edinburg Economic Development Corporation

ruben-hinojosa

Featured: Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, in a Wednesday, March 27, 2013 portrait at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. Hinojosa, who retires after 20 years at the end of December 2016, continues to produce for Edinburg, including with a recent $1.2 million federal grant to help prevent flooding in a northern part of the community.

Photograph By ISMAEL GARCÍA

Edinburg and Hidalgo County leaders are scheduled to meet at noon on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 in the county’s Administration Building for discussion and possible action regarding plans to build a new county courthouse in the city’s downtown region, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The joint session of the Edinburg City Council and the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court will be held in the Hidalgo County Commissioners Courtroom, located on the first floor of the county Administration Building, 100 East Cano. The meeting is open to the public. The purpose of the meeting is to consider a possible Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which would memorialize the commitments made by the County of Hidalgo and the City of Edinburg for the construction of a new Hidalgo County Courthouse to be located in Edinburg, which is the county seat, according to Sonia Marroquín, Assistant City Manager for the City of Edinburg. The deliberations also will include what roles might be played by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, in the development and funding for the planned county courthouse. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, and Elías Longoria, Jr. Richard Rupert, and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC.

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