A year after Norberto Salinas was first elected Mayor of Mission twenty years ago, the city’s tax rate was $0.62 per $100 of property valuation. Today, it stands at just $0.4862, a drop of more than 21% in the property taxes Mission residents pay. The city’s election is set for this May.
“Today, I am announcing my commitment to continue serving the residents of Mission for one more term. We have several projects that we are working on that I would like to complete before I retire from elected office,” Salinas said. “I am asking for the continued support of Mission residents, the same support they have given me over the years. I look forward to completing this next term.”
“When I came in, the city had been neglected so much. We had so many needs, and we just started working on them one by one,” Salinas explained. “We didn’t have to spend time making plans and doing studies. All you had to do was drive around town to see what was needed.”
For Salinas, infrastructure was the primary target.
“There were a lot of things that we needed. We need to expand quite a few streets and roads and the drainage that goes with that,” Salinas said. “We did as many of those with general operating funds. We used a pay-as-you-go approach. We could have done it with bonds, but we knew that would really add to the burden of Mission taxpayers. We used bonds only when we absolutely had to.”
With more than $89.9 million in infrastructure investments since the start of his administration, Salinas said the city has almost been rebuilt from the ground up. “We have a new library, a new bridge, new roads, much better drainage, repaved streets, new parks, rebuilt parks, recreation areas, water lines, new sewer lines, new city hall, new police station, new fire stations, new sidewalks, a hike and bike trail, and so many more things. We’ve made the city more livable, more attractive. That’s why Mission is growing by leaps and bounds.”
Salinas points out that the continued growth had benefitted Mission residents. “In 1998, the city’s certified tax roll was at $874.3 million. In 2017, we were at $4.1 billion, that’s billion with a “B.” So our property values have grown 472%. That’s mostly from growth in new residential, commercial and industrial construction. That has allowed us to be able to cut taxes almost every year. While the county and other cities are increasing taxes, we’ve been smart about only doing what we need and can afford.”
However, as much as the city’s growth and development has been critical to the city’s success, Salinas points to the housing rehab program the city instituted and expanded during this tenure. “We’ve remodeled 349 housing units, mostly for elderly residents. We’ve invested $11.49 million into this segment of our community. Some of these houses would have eventually had to be torn down. But, we worked with the homeowners and made them better, so they can stay here. It brings up the property values and makes our neighborhoods better and safer.”
Salinas pointed to the work done by Mission Economic Development Council (MEDC) in recruiting and expanding the business and industrial base. “Thanks to the work we’ve done with the MEDC, we’ve been able to bring a lot of new businesses into Mission. That means a lot of jobs for Mission residents. There’s more places to shop and eat. We don’t have to go out of Mission to shop and have a good time. Last year, Mission was named as one of the best cities in the nation to start a restaurant. That says quite a lot about the business atmosphere in Mission. Businesses want to come here.”
In addition to the jobs new businesses bring, Salinas sees other benefits. “The new retail expansion brings in a lot of sales tax revenue, which really helps to support many of the projects we do. All this business and industrial growth means that it helps to keep taxes for our homeowners much lower than in other communities in the Valley.”
Salinas added that the city’s economic future looks bright now that the Anzalduas Bridge, jointly owned by Mission, McAllen and Hidalgo, has secured permission to start some truck traffic. “That bridge is already generating new businesses and jobs. As our traffic with Mexico increases, that means more businesses and more jobs.”
Looking over the city’s growth, Salinas said the outlook is very good. “The City of Mission has been growing for the last 15 years. We’ve invested in our city where it really matters, not just in streets, parks, drainage and bringing in new businesses. We’ve been growing faster than other cities in Hidalgo County. From 1990 to 2016, Mission grew by 67.95%, compared to 64.28% for McAllen and just 50.67% for Edinburg. People are moving here because of what we have to offer.”
“I want to keep working on some of our pending projects and keep making Mission the place where people want to live,” Salinas said.