FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2016
Pharr, Texas – As is the case in communities across Texas, the City of Pharr is working to finalize its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. According to the Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 102, a municipality’s budget officer shall prepare each year a municipal budget to cover the proposed expenditures of the municipal government for the succeeding year.
Pharr’s proposed budget was presented for consideration to the members of the Pharr City Council on Monday, August 15, 2016. At the same meeting, the city certified the anticipated debt collection rate, and certified the effective and rollback tax rate. A public hearing on the proposed budget was scheduled for August 29, 2016 and a public hearing on the tax rate will be held on September 6, 2016. The fiscal year 2016-2017 budget is scheduled to be formally adopted by the Pharr City Council on September 12, 2016.
BUDGET PRIORITIES (FY 2015-2016)
Last fiscal year (2015-2016), under new leadership and at the direction of Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., the City of Pharr’s budget priorities centered around two major issues: giving back to residents, and improving City infrastructure. City leaders and administration focused resources and expenditures on projects involving these initiatives, and to date, Pharr leaders have accomplished their budget priorities.
On addressing the change in leadership, Mayor Hernandez said, “I wanted to be your Mayor because there were many basic things that I saw that needed to change in our city, and I knew that together with our leaders and administration, we could implement them. Primarily, we wanted a return to a responsible use of fiscal resources, and focusing on improving conditions for residents in Pharr. These are the promises I made, and the promises I have kept.”
Several notable successes under the priority to give back to residents include: giving Pharr citizens the biggest reduction in property taxes in the last 20 years; identifying $7 million in excess cash in the utility fund and returning half of that back to the utility payers, the first time any city in the area has given money back to the residents; creating a Utility Bill Relief program to assist those in need with their utility bill; implementing a living wage initiative, a minimum $11/hour wage for full-time employees and for those requesting economic development incentives from the City; instilling a culture of ethics to ensure that the residents are priority number one, and mandating that the City of Pharr employees adhere to the guidelines of Pharr “PRIDE” (Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Ethics).
In addition, Pharr leaders took south Pharr residents’ concerns into consideration, building a pedestrian bridge linking a neighborhood to Jones Box Park, at a cost $250,000; and starting the building of the Development & Research Center in south Pharr, at a cost of $4.5 million. In the interest of saving taxpayer funds, other cost-saving methods implemented included reducing the cost of the annual Pharr HUB Phestival by $300,000, a decrease of 50%. In the interest of providing educational and training opportunities for Pharr residents, the city purchased and donated more than 50 acres of land to South Texas College (STC) for a regional law enforcement STC branch will be built in Pharr, at a cost of $2.5 million.
Improving city infrastructure was also a significant priority for the city during the last fiscal year. In the last 10 years, the City of Pharr received just under $28 million in federal funding, this year alone through the Mayor’s leadership the City was able to obtain federal funding for Pharr roads in excess of $52 million. Also, the city reconstructed long-time failing roads, including Navarro Street and Hi-Line Road at a cost of $1.2 million, and fully funded and started Year 1 of the 4-year street re-pavement program for roads that had remained largely unmaintained in south, central, and northern Pharr, at a cost of $4 million. Furthermore, the city focused on improving parks infrastructure, building Phase I of Dr. Long City/PSJA School Special Needs Park, 5 acres in northern part of Pharr, at a cost of $750,000.
BUDGET PRIORITIES (FY 2016-2017)
This year, City of Pharr’s budget priorities will focus on increasing residents’ quality of life, and further improving city infrastructure.
Budget priorities for this next fiscal year include the following proposed projects to increase resident’s quality of life include:
- Upgrading and expanding Pharr’s parks system to include 6 new parks – expanding the Dr. Long City/PSJA School Special Needs Park, expanding the Jones Box Park in South Pharr, potentially developing two new city/school parks, a nature park, and a new downtown park, increasing the total parks acreage a total of 61 acres at a total cost of approximately $4 million. Overall, the improvements will include playing fields, recreational basketball courts, walking trails, amphitheater stage, and gathering spaces to host live events.
- Fairly compensating police officers and firefighters to get them in line with pay that is equitable and commensurate with the region, so that they continue providing a safe city for residents to enjoy.
- Providing long-needed safety measures to all schools in Pharr with speed cushions and/or speed radars.
- Adding a festival in south Pharr and in north Pharr.
- Beginning the feasibility of creating a major 100-200 acre park in what will soon be Pharr’s southeastern city limits.
Budget priorities to improve city infrastructure during this upcoming fiscal year include the development of the following proposed projects:
Fully funding and starting Year 2 of the 4-year street re-pavement program for unmaintained roads in south, central and northern Pharr – $3.6 million.
- Expanding Owassa Road west of the expressway to Jackson, from a two-lane county road into a five-lane road – $5 million.
- Building a long-needed fire station in Pharr’s industrial area to have adequate services to Pharr’s major job and fiscal region – $1.5 million.
- Building a major water line and water tower in northern Pharr – $12.4 million.
- Funding engineering costs for the expansion of HiLine Road from Jackson to Veterans Road, Anaya from Cage to Veterans Road, and Veterans from Military to Rancho Blanco, all expanding from two lane county standard roads into five land industrial roads in the near future – $1.4 million.
The projects listed above are proposed projects subject to approval by the Pharr City Commission upon consideration of the FY 2016-2017 budget.
“Our proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is evident of what priorities we have as a City,” said City Manager Juan Guerra. “These improvements have been long-needed, and the leadership directive from our Mayor Hernandez and the City Commissioners to work toward improving the quality of life for our Pharr residents has been a major priority for us,” Guerra continued.
“We are fortunate that our city’s strong financial health is being responsibly managed and continues to strengthen so that we can we afford these improvements without imposing the burden on our residents and without increasing taxes,” Guerra added.
“By putting our citizens first and making their livelihood a priority, we refocused city resources and funding to benefit our current residents and the future generations that will live and work in Pharr,” Hernandez ended.