Mitchell Ferman

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Mitchell Ferman covers the city of McAllen and cross-border trade and politics for The Monitor. He can be reached at mferman@themonitor.com or (956) 683-4474.

McAllen tax rate increase likely following bond election

City officials here held their second tax rate hearing Monday for the public to provide feedback to commissioners before they vote later this month to increase the property tax rate in McAllen, which would pay for drainage and traffic projects that voters approved in a 2018 bond election. But the only people who showed up for Monday’s hearing were city staff and a student required to attend a city meeting. “Are you guys here for school?” City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said to a pair of people sitting in the back of the commission chambers before the meeting began. “This meeting’s going to be, like, five minutes.” Read more on the monitor.com.

Sales tax revenues up across South Texas

July is typically a slow month for sales tax revenues in South Texas. Schools are on summer break and families embark on vacation out of town, leaving many city and business leaders in the region prepared for a slow month. But not this year, where nearly every city in the Rio Grande Valley — from South Padre Island and Brownsville to McAllen and Mission to Roma and Rio Grande City — saw increased sales tax revenues. “You’ve seen cities and economic development organizations being aggressive and creating opportunities,” said Sergio Contreras, President of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, a pro-business organization. McAllen has already surpassed last year’s total for the entire fiscal year, which begins in October and ends in September. McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said the city will have set a record for annual sales tax revenues once this fiscal year ends. The previous mark for most sales tax revenues collected in a single year was $62.9 million. No more. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Rep. Gonzalez switches endorsement from Castro to Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro on Sunday lost one of his congressional endorsements, with U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, switching his support to former Vice President Joe Biden. Gonzalez was one of three Texas congressmen who endorsed Castro, joining Castro’s brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and U.S. Rep. Collin Allred, D-Dallas. Read the full story on TheMonitor.com.

McAllen and Houston EB-5 programs announce alliance

For foreign investors interested in becoming United States citizens, the EB-5 immigrant investor program offers that opportunity, at the right price. Multiple foreign investors put down $500,000 to help build the Cambria Hotel next to the McAllen Convention Center, the site of Wednesday’s announcement of an alliance between McAllen’s EB-5 program and Houston’s. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey named 2019 Border Texan of the Year

President Guy Bailey of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday was named the 2019 Border Texan of the Year, a prestigious annual recognition that has been awarded to the likes of former Texas Gov. George W. Bush, H-E-B owner Charles C. Butt and late U.S. Rep. Kika De La Garza. Read the full story on themonitor.com.

New state law takes effect at McAllen meeting

City officials here were concerned going into Monday's meeting. It was the first regularly scheduled commission meeting since a new state law took effect Sept. 1. “It could certainly turn into a problematic situation,” McAllen City Attorney Kevin Pagan warned late last month. Those hesitations were not realized. On Monday, at least. Read more at the monitor.com.

Elizabeth Warren endorses Cisneros, Rep. Cuellar’s primary challenger

Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday endorsed progressive immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros in her primary campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. Cisneros, who is 26 years old and a Laredo native, said Warren’s support “proves we have the momentum” to bring new representation to the Congressional district that stretches from Laredo to Mission. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen applies for migrant aid reimbursement

This week, 71 immigrants seeking asylum in the United States arrived at the migrant relief center in downtown McAllen. It was a slow week. Earlier this year, and over the last five years, federal authorities dropped off hundreds of — and at times over a thousand — migrants in McAllen in a single day. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, with contributions from the City of McAllen, has aided the migrants. This year was perhaps the busiest, during the winter when the authorities released mass groups of migrants into border cities. Read more at the monitor.com.

Assurances sought on safety of Mexican highway

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez on Tuesday asked that he receive assurances from the Mexican government that a highway safety program, which includes the stretch of road from Reynosa to Monterrey, is to be implemented before he will vote on the revised North American Free Trade Agreement. Gonzalez said he’s concerned about the security of commercial and passenger vehicle traffic traveling between the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, where no security restrictions have been in place. This highway safety program, which Gonzalez said he discussed with Mexican officials during a trip to Mexico City this year, would help increase safety measures for this traveling between Reynosa and Monterrey, a busy road frequented by commercial trucks, which has made the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge one of the busiest international bridges in the country. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Unique issues raised during North McAllen town hall

The fastest growing part of McAllen — including the 2,500-acre Tres Lagos community at the northern edge of the city — over the last two years has seen the construction of new streets, schools and hundreds of homes. During that time, North McAllen voters have also ushered in a new city commissioner, and for the first time since his March 2018 election, District 1 Commissioner Javier Villalobos on Thursday night held a town hall with residents in the vertical sliver of the city that makes up Villalobos’ district. His district winds and stretches from Nolana Avenue all the way north to the area around Monte Cristo Road, and beyond. City department directors — police, engineering, traffic and parks and recreation — spoke to residents about the states of their department and fielded unique questions specific to only this section of the city. Read the full story at themonitor.com.