Meet Your Mayors

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Jan-Feb-Magazine.indd

1. RGVision Magazine focuses on 4 elements; Healthcare, Business, Education, and Quality of Life. In what way have you ensured that health care is improving for the city you represent?

I have been heavily involved with the new and exciting construction by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance medical center. The project on Dove Avenue for the UTRGV Residents Residence Village, GME patient clinics and a 200,000 sq. foot Research Center with possible UTRGV research department presence will be a game changer. Healthcare has also taken a big step forward with South Texas College doubling its allied health facility in south McAllen.

2. How have you assured that businesses and the education system will continue to thrive in your city?

Education: We are always striving to advance our education system in the City of McAllen. The construction of an STC industrial arts complex on south Ware Road is thrilling and UTRGV is also working on an expansion of their masters programs into PHd programs in a south McAllen location. By working with our partners at McAllen ISD in developing training and college credit programs, our educational system will also continue to improve.

Business: The City of McAllen continues to expand its business footprint in the region. We have rezoned all A-O properties in McAllen to development zones (residential, commercial, industrial) so that developers can determine where to place their developments without the delay and cost of rezoning a property. It simply enhances their decision to develop in McAllen. There are also a number of incentive programs for redevelopment in areas where there are unoccupied properties or properties in need of upgrade in targeted areas of the city. Furthermore, the implementation of the one-stop shop development center at the old McAllen city hall building has spurred a new “can – do” way of doing business. There has also been a creation and staffing of the retail development and recruitment office inside city hall to grow business in our wonderful city.

3. How have you ensured the quality of life of your citizens is improving and will continue to improve?

Quality of life takes top priority in the City of McAllen. I have worked with the City Commission and new assistant city managers to develop the McAllen Holiday Parade, construction of the new performing arts center and to enhance physical exercise activities via the hike and ride activities. The opening of new hike and bike lanes and city parks has been a key component in improving the quality of life for our community. Development and enhancement of the award winning McAllen Library, the art area of the city and the art incubator have also been key projects in McAllen.

4. What is the biggest challenge you foresee in the upcoming years for your city and what are some plans you have in place to overcome said challenges?

The biggest challenge in the coming years is to maintain our position as a very strong retail center which allows McAllen to provide many of the quality of life and infrastructure improvements for our citizens at the lowest property tax rate in our area and the state for a city our size. We have to also consider the internet business effect on the collection or our sales tax and the federal law proposed for those transactions. We have sold the existing Civic Center site to a developer and are working on a development agreement to attract retail that is new to the area that is unique from what we have to offer in the Valley. We continue to work with La Plaza Mall to maintain and improve the Mall as the top retail venue in the Valley. That with our development process changes and retail recruitment and support for all of our existing retail businesses we will be able to not only maintain but grow our retail presence.

5. What is the biggest asset your city has to offer the community and the Rio Grande Valley as a whole?

McAllen does not have the population base to be a true “central city” although it is the largest city in Hidalgo County it only represents less than 20% of the population. It does act as a central city in providing many amenities and services (library, parks, utilities, leadership on state wide committees and local government entities involved in electricity and utility issues, municipal league matters, police and fire matters, and it is allowed to provide such amenities services as a “central city” because of its financial position relating to sales tax and other revenue sources.

6. How do you see the other communities of the Rio Grande Valley collaborating, if at all, and do you believe this is beneficial? In what way?

The biggest evidence of collaboration and the biggest opportunity in the future is the new university. The Valley needs to look at more shared services such as water and sewer facilities, fire services and possible infrastructure opportunities. The concept is not necessarily regionalization, which is consolidation of services, etc… into a central agency or entity, but I think the concept of shared services where the individual city participants actually govern and control the activities in shared operation authority is more feasible and acceptable for the individual cities to accept and will enhance opportunities for collaboration for efficiency and cost savings for our citizens.

7. What are your priorities for 2015?

My priorities for 2015 are to work with our city commissioners and city staff in the total development of our convention center property, to keep up the momentum on retail development and enhancement in our city, to develop the medical and higher education presence in our city, to implement the development of the advanced manufacturing and technology research center in South McAllen, to enhance the efforts in residential rehabilitation our central city, to develop the recently annexed areas of our city and to work at more opportunities for collaboration with our city neighbors and Hidalgo County government and especially our County Commissioners with areas in our city – all while having some fun doing all of that!

8. Do you read RGVision? Why or why not?

Yes, I read RGVision because it is a good venue for what is going on in our area and the persons leading the way.

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