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Mayor Salinas, Much Accomplished, More to Come

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Mayor Norberto "Beto" Salinas

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Lowering Property Tax, a Done Deal, Now Gears Effort for a New International Bridge

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition April 2018

Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, has become one of the biggest icons of South Texas. He is known for defending what he believes is right no matter what it takes.

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As you read this article, he is running for reelection; he was elected mayor for the first time in 1998. During his twenty-year tenure, ‘Beto’ has accomplished multiple life-changing projects for his constituents. Be it working with the city’s staff or with the cities around him in a partnership to get it done; the point is that he always leads to a successful result.

One of the most significant accomplishments as a public servant is lowering the city’s property tax from among the highest in the region twenty years ago, to a record low.

He told Texas Border Business that he has a certain feeling that he is doing well in this electoral process, which culminates in May. “You don’t take it lightly,” he said. “People are coming on board and telling us that we’re doing very well.”

This conversation took place a few minutes before the ribbon cutting ceremony of the long overdue Mission Event Center. For years, people had petitioned him to build it. He always stood by a position that the city was not ready, not until the ad valorem taxes could be decreased; the rate is today at a record low.

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“It was important for the citizens of Mission and for me to get it lower. Today we are at .48 cents per one hundred dollars assessed value.” He continued, “Property taxes are typically a major, if not the major revenue source for both state and municipal governments,” he stated. For reference purposes, the City of McAllen has a .47 cents ad valorem tax; they are the lowest in the region and right next to them is Mission.

According to Beto, when they got to the lowest number where he felt comfortable, he gave the green light for the event center to get built, but not before, a good plan had to be submitted to the City Commission.

He thanked his staff for the great work they have done. He recognized Martin Garza, the city manager, as a great leader. “The city working together with the Mission Economic Development Corporation has delivered another win for Mission; it’s been team work,” he stated.

“The facility certainly came in at an excellent price, and it’s a wonderful building. It’s dedicated to all the people of Mission,” Salinas declared.

He praised the architect responsible for the design. “We selected a young architect out of San Antonio, born and raised in McAllen.” He said, “Ramiro Zapata did an upstanding job designing the building.”

During his time as mayor, Salinas has seen four fire stations built. He feels proud of the city hall and police department buildings. “They are all beautiful buildings,” he said.

He pointed out that a new fire station is in the works and will be built in the next year or two.

Mission has grown exponentially, that brings more demand for services. He said that the tricky part is not to provide the services, but to provide services without increasing the property tax.

“So, people are happy with what we’ve been doing, and they like it for the simple reason that we have not increased any taxes but lowered them 20 cents since I’ve been in office,” he reiterated.

Mayor Salinas’ satisfaction is that if a young couple wants to buy or build a home, as they shop around, they will find Mission is one of the lowest levied cities.

Because of this, the mayor is expecting more growth and more investments; just because taxes are lower, Mission is attractive for buyers and developers.

Prior to being Mission’s mayor, he spent thirteen years as Hidalgo County Commissioner. He said that gave him the experience to be able to manage a city. “Becoming mayor was a big challenge, but I was ready for it,” he stated.

What do you do for relaxing aside from being a full-time major? “I have my ranch.” He said, “Salinas Ranch is where we raise American Brahman.”

“The American Brahman is an exceptional and rare breed; we raise white and red,” he said. The ranch is north of Sullivan City; when he visits to work, he also relaxes by taking care of the ranch animals.

Mayor Salinas had to do a lot with building the Anzalduas International Bridge with McAllen and Hidalgo. This project took several years. He said that former Congressman Ruben Hinojosa helped in Washington to make it happen.

Now he gears his efforts towards building a new international bridge that has been cooking for quite some time. “The thing is that now we have a challenge of the Madero bridge. We do have a permit, and we are working together with McAllen and Hidalgo, and are ready to start the process. Hopefully, we can get it done and open it only for trailers and commercial traffic.”

The plan is that when the Madero bridge is built and open, the commercial trailers will be able to cross from Mexico to the United States and be on the expressway in about five to six minutes.

“That is the benefit of this whole thing. The Madero Bridge has to cross the trailers as fast as possible so that they can get on the expressway and go north to San Antonio.”

Mayor Salinas continues to foster the Sister City program with Mexico, that now includes Almolonga, a city in the country of Guatemala. Mission already has 28 sister cities; each year hundreds of delegates representing the sister cities join the mayor to celebrate the “Mayor’s International Brunch,” which takes place in January, and as well as celebrating the citrus industry parade.

This year, Mayor Salinas promised the Mexico delegations that the brunch celebration was going to take place in the new Mission Event Center in 2019.

“I am blessed to serve this City, and I hope to continue the work we have started,” Mayor Salinas finalized.

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