Starr County repays bank $2.5M loan

RIO GRANDE CITY — Just in time to meet deadline, Starr County officials approved repayment of a $2.5 million loan to Lone Star National Bank.

County commissioners approved a payment of $2,499,953.89 on the loan and a second payment of $44,188.86 to cover the interest during commissioners court Monday.

“So hopefully, by the end of the day, everything will be paid,” County Judge Eloy Vera said.

To make the payment, commissioners first approved a transfer of about $300,000 from projected jail revenues.

“The jail, it seems like, is going to make about a million dollars more than we had in the budget,” Vera said, adding that revenues from the detention center were originally projected at $1.66 million. “However, due to the increase in federal prisoners now, it seems like that $1.66 will be about $2.6 (million).”

Notice that the deadline to repay the loan in full was approaching came from County Auditor Boyd Carter during a workshop. The workshop, held Jan. 12, was originally held for the commissioners to consider budget amendments.

Because of financial strain, the county commissioners, by a 3-2 vote, approved a budget in September 2017 that made deep cuts to various departments.

With revenues coming in higher than projected, many department heads approached Carter requesting more funds stating they didn’t have enough money to operate.

“We’re going to make those that are absolutely necessary,” Vera said of budget amendments. The most urgent, Vera said, included an increase in funds for indigent defense and an increase to the sheriff’s office for fuel.

Vera said he will meet with Carter to determine what is essential to make those budget amendments.

“Then we’re going to let it flow for a few months,” Vera said, to make sure the revenues continue to come in at the same levels. “There’s a lot of factors that we need to make sure are coming in before we can allocate some of the other money.”