Mayor: Edinburg ‘committed’ to county courthouse

Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina stressed the city council’s intention to remain the county seat in a statement Wednesday, news which comes after questions recently surfaced about the city’s financial commitment to a new $150 million courthouse and Pharr officials’ subsequent interest.

“The city of Edinburg has been and is supportive to the construction of the new Hidalgo County Courthouse at the current Courthouse Square in Edinburg,” Molina said in the statement. “For the record, the city of Edinburg has been working with Hidalgo County for more than five years concerning the planning of the new courthouse and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the county in the planning and financial participation in the construction of the new courthouse.”

This is a different tone than what Molina took last week, when he expressed concerns with Edinburg’s $30 million financial commitment to the courthouse over 30 years. The $30 million price tag will grow to $45 million once interest is accrued.

“It’s hard to come in with a new board and commit $45 million,” Molina previously said of the city’s monetary obligation. “That’s really putting a strain on our budget.”

County leaders want Edinburg to sign an interlocal agreement to finalize the deal, which would be legally binding as opposed to the aforementioned MOU.

Although there previously appeared to be hesitance from Edinburg’s new leadership, Wednesday’s statement struck a new tone and evoked the history between the two entities beginning in 1908, when Edinburg became the county seat.

“The Hidalgo County seat is synonymous with the city of Edinburg, and the mayor and city council of the city of Edinburg will exhaust any and all efforts to move the county seat or build the new Hidalgo County Courthouse in another city,” Molina said in the statement.

The mayor was referring to Pharr commissioners expressing interest in the courthouse last week should communication break down between the county and Edinburg.

Molina stated: “The city of Edinburg is committed to having the new Hidalgo County Courthouse built in Edinburg’s Downtown Square, but in response to recent news reports we want the citizens of Edinburg and Hidalgo County to know what steps need to be followed for the county seat to be moved or the new courthouse to be built outside of Edinburg.”