How much is tent-city prison really worth?

RAYMONDVILLE — The county’s sale of the former “tent-city” prison might be a windfall for the city and school district. But it depends on the appraised tax value of the 53-acre site, said Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales.

“I’m guessing it’s going to be a good chunk of change,” Gonzales said.

Willacy County commissioners entered into an agreement to sell the property to Management and Training Corp., the operator of the facilty since it opened in 2006.

Now, the property will be placed on the tax rolls, generating $1.5 million to $2 million in property tax revenue in the area while creating about 250 jobs, County Judge Aurelio Guerra said.

But Guerra declined to disclose the purchase price until the deal closes later this week.

The county sold the property after bond holders demanded payment of its $68 million debt.

If it is appraised at $68 million, in Raymondville the property would generate tax revenue equal to about one-third of the city’s current tax base, City Manager Eleazar Garcia said.

Based on the city’s tax rate of $75 cents per $100 valuation, he said, that would be about $500,000 added to the annual tax collection of $166 million.

But officials admit in its current state the property is not worth $68 million.

For more on the story read Thursday’s Valley Morning Star.