EDITORIAL: Appalling low voter turnout for McAllen bond election

If you were among the 1,728 voters who cast a ballot for the city of McAllen’s two bond elections last weekend totaling $25 million, give yourself a pat on the back. You were among just 2.5 percent of the city’s 68,118 registered voters who bothered to go to the polls.

Both bonds passed — $22 million for drainage upgrades and $3 million for traffic improvements — but given such an abysmal low voter turnout that resulted in a small percentage of voters deciding a tax hike that will affect everyone, this is nothing to celebrate.

A robust democracy is dependent upon an energized and participating populous. To shirk our duties, as U.S. citizens, is not what our Founding Fathers expected when they built this great nation. It also doesn’t make us very good role models for our youth, who could be learning from our apathy and might result in even lower voter turnout numbers in the future (if that’s even possible.)

Congratulations to residents in the much smaller city of Hidalgo, who showed those in McAllen, that they, at least, value their right to vote. Over half of Hidalgo’s registered voters participated in Saturday’s mayoral election where former city council member Sergio Coronado defeated Hidalgo Mayor Martin Cepeda. Nearly 3,700 of the city’s 7,200 registered voters cast ballots.

If you live in McAllen and own a home valued at $128,133, expect your annual taxes to rise $24 to cover the two new bonds; if your home is valued at $256,266 then expect a $48 tax hike.

If you’re not happy about that, don’t complain if you didn’t take the time to vote.

City Manager Roy Rodriguez told Monitor reporter Mitchell Ferman that construction would begin this week on these new bond projects.

This includes 23 new drainage projects to aid with water problems throughout the city, such as widening drainage outlets and increasing detention ponds. Two projects will be aimed at reducing high water flow at the troublesome areas of 29th Street and Northgate Lane in north McAllen, and Ranch Road and McColl Road in south McAllen.

The $3 million traffic bond will fund new traffic hardware and fiber to be put throughout the city on most north/south and east/west busy thoroughfares to help synchronize traffic signals and to help traffic flow better.

The bond projects are expected to take five years to complete.

We remind city leaders of the bonds totaling $45 million they requested in 2013, included a bond for $15 million that voters approved for construction of a new youth baseball complex and softball fields through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. It was supposed to be completed in three years. But five years later, those fields still aren’t ready to play ball. We hope these new projects will be done on time and as promised.

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