Raymondville proposes $3.6 million budget

RAYMONDVILLE — The city is pulling out of financial woes stemming from the loss of the Willacy County Correction Center and its Super Walmart store.

The appraisal of the 53-acre site on which the prison stood is boosting the city’s appraised property value from $166 million to $184 million, pumping $143,000 into city coffers, City Manager Eleazar Garcia said yesterday.

“It’s looking good,” Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said. “It’s not as bad as last year.”

Ongoing improvements are expected to boost the property’s value, said Agustin Lopez, chief appraiser of the Willacy County Appraisal District.

Lopez said he plans a re-appraisal toward the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Management & Training Corp., which purchased the property from Willacy County earlier this year, continues its search for a customer such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Now, the city’s proposed general fund budget shows signs of the city’s recovery.

A proposed $3.6 million general fund budget is expected to come with the city’s biggest street program in 15 years, Gonzales said.

The city plans to borrow money to improve about 30 blocks of streets.

“We can only do what we can do,” he said of proposed funding for the project.

Last year marked the second year in a row the city, faced with the closing of the prison and Walmart, held of a major street repair program.

For about two years, the city has held off on funding employee raises.

But this year, officials have not determined whether they will try to fund a pay package, Garcia said.

Meanwhile, the city’s property tax rate of 75 cents per $100 valuation will stand.

Garcia said the city plans to dip into its $1.1 million cash reserve to offset a $150,000 shortfall.

The city does not plan to use its general fund budget to fund major capital improvements

In 2015, the prison’s closure cut $600,000 in annual water sales when the 3,000-bed prison closed in February 2015 following a riot.

In early 2016, Walmart closed its Super store here, leading to cuts of about $42,000 from the city’s $1.4 million sales tax collection, Garcia said at the time.

Since then, local stores have helped offset the loss of sales tax, he said.

Proposed budget — What you need to know

$3.6 million general fund budget

$1.1 million cash reserve

$1.5 million street improvement program

Tax rate remains at 75 cents per $100 valuation