RAYMONDVILLE — The former tent-city prison apparently carries a price tag of $68 million.
County commissioners and Management and Training Corp. yesterday closed one of the county’s biggest deals in more than 10 years.
“It’s a great deal,” Commissioner Oscar DeLuna said yesterday morning.
DeLuna said the county sold the 53-acre facility for $68 million, the amount of debt owed on its bonds.
It appears some of the sale’s details are being disclosed.
As part of the sale, an agreement also will pay the county $3 a day for every inmate held in the facility, DeLuna said.
The facility is expected to open with a 1,000-bed concrete housing unit.
With a daily head-count of 1,000 inmates, the county would receive $1.09 million a year, calculations show.
The deal comes two years after a riot destroyed much of the 3,000-bed Willacy County Correctional Center, a minimum-security prison largely made up of tent-like domes.
The closure of the prison, which paid the county for every inmate it held, led to 400 employee layoffs, slashing a third of the county’s $8.1 million general fund budget and plunging the area into financial crisis.
On Tuesday, commissioners entered into the agreement after bond holders demanded payment of the $68 million debt.
MTC plans to create about 275 jobs, County Judge Aurelio Guerra said after entering in the agreement.
The sale will put the property on the tax roles, potentially generating $1.5 million to $2 million in annual tax revenue for the county’s taxing entities, including the city of Raymondville and the school district, Guerra said.
Guerra said the sale will bring the county $350,000 to $450,000 in annual property tax revenue.
But big questions remain.
At Raymondville City Hall, City Manager Eleazar Garcia said he is waiting for the property’s appraisal.
A windfall of tax revenue depends on the facility’s appraisal taxable value, Garcia said.
Garcia said the property would generate tax revenues equal to about one-third of Raymondville’s current tax base — if it is appraised at $68 million.
“That’s the best deal Raymondville ever got,” Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said. “It’s going to give us a big boost.”
As county-owned property, the facility was never appraised, said Agustin Lopez, chief appraiser for the Willacy County Appraisal District.
Now, he and a contracted company are preparing to begin an appraisal, Lopez said.
As it stands, he said, the property consisting of two high razor-wire fences surrounding a 1,000-bed concrete housing unit on 53 acres is not worth $68 million.
MTC plans to remove the 10 tent-like Kevlar domes damaged in the February 2015 riot that destroyed much of the prison.
But Lopez said the property could be worth $68 million or more when it becomes operational.
MTC, a national prison operator based in Centerville, Utah, was one of the companies involved in the original deal that led to the facility’s development in 2006.
MTC, expected to turn the facility into a detention center to hold undocumented immigrants, has not determined when it will begin operations.
President Donald Trump’s push to deport undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes helped lead to the deal, Guerra said.
MTC, which operated the facility since it opened in 2006, is searching for a customer for whom to hold inmates.
Prospects include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has expressed interest in the facility, officials said.