During the summer, Hidalgo County experienced what elected officials described as a “500-year rain” that flooded certain areas of the county. This prompted the Hidalgo County Drainage District (HCDD) Board to place a $190 million bond proposition on November’s ballot to address drainage issues that, on Tuesday evening, was approved by voters.
Out of the 152,950 total votes cast in Hidalgo County, the bond (listed as Proposition A on the ballot) passed with 67 percent (87,196) voting for and 33 percent (42,095) voting against. Over 13,000 voters failed to vote for or against the measure.
Once in effect, this will increase the district’s property tax rate by 3 cents per $100 valuation, taking the total rate up to 12.5 cents. For a $100,000 home, the annual property tax bill will increase about $30. According to HCDD General Manager Raul Sesin, the tax rate increase will gradually take effect and property owners will only see a half-cent tax increase initially; it will rise to the three cents by the third year.
David Fuentes, Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 1, whose precinct was affected the most by the summer flood, stated on Tuesday evening he was excited to move forward with the 38 projects proposed. However, during the summer he expressed, “Even if we do a three-cent (increase), that won’t be sufficient.”
Many residents in Hidalgo County voiced their opposition against the bond.
Local activist Israel Coronado with “Make Weslaco Drain Again” repeatedly pleaded to viewers on Facebook to hold their elected officials accountable. According to Weslaco’s flooding history, this summer isn’t the first time 20 percent of Weslaco has been underwater, but Coronado finds that “politicians blame God” to conveniently fit their own agenda.
Coronado has used his social media presence to discourage the drainage bond, requesting the county to first provide proper maintenance of the drainage systems before raising taxes for improvements. He has single-handedly has visited various sites and recorded drainage canals to prove “illegal dumping” isn’t the issue, as stated previously by commissioners, and how simple brush trimming and cleaning could fix the drainage issues — not $190 million bond issuances.
According to the HCDD website, “The 38 proposed bond projects include the four county precincts, and aim to improve, upgrade, and expand existing components of the county’s drainage system, as well as add components to the system which will help to move flood waters from storms more efficiently.”
With citizens approving such a substantial bond proposal, they also must unite to hold their elected officials accountable to ensure the simple task of cleaning their drainage systems before another “500-year rain” occurs. Only time will tell if officials will once again blame God and, most importantly, if citizens will continue to re-elect unaccountable politicians.