Special to the PRESS
Correction: The PRESS published an incomplete copy of Mr. Snyder’s letter in last week’s issue. The letter is reprinted below in its entirety.
The Answer to PIISD Budget Shortfall? Rio Grande LNG Chapter 313 Agreement.
Point Isabel Independent School District is wrestling with a $743,000 funding shortfall for the upcoming budget year after a state tax compression program known as Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) expires at the end of this fiscal year.
For every dollar the district collects in property taxes, a substantial amount must be paid to the state in recapture due to Robin Hood, also known as Chapter 41. Board Trustee Mickey Furcron was quoted in the July 6 issue of the Port Isabel Press as saying: “The easiest way to say it is for every dollar we collect, we give half of it (back).”
To make up for the budget shortfall, staff has run a number of models, including a tax increase and spending cuts. But I have a much better solution.
The school board should reconsider a Chapter 313 agreement with Rio Grande LNG, which would add millions of dollars in additional property tax revenue to its coffers over the course of the temporary agreement without raising its tax rate.
Chapter 313 is a state economic development tool that allows school districts to keep millions of local tax dollars rather than sending the money to Austin through the Robin Hood requirement.
If the agreement is put into place and the project moves forward, the district would keep approximately $1 million in additional property tax revenue a year during most of the 16 years that the agreement is in place.
When Rio Grande LNG representatives asked the school board to consider evaluating the benefits of an agreement last fall, four school board members – Alicia Baldovinos, Jennifer Pinkerton, Bertha Zamora, and Jimmy Vela – voted not to even consider it! They may be regretting that decision now that it’s even more clear that the district could use the revenues. Since the “no” vote, many Port Isabel residents have questioned the decision and expressed the desire for the board to reconsider.
If a Chapter 313 agreement with Rio Grande LNG is still an option, it would be a great solution to the school district’s budget shortfall. We can keep more tax dollars here, locally, to improve our children’s education, give teachers and staff well-deserved pay increases, and maintain and improve school facilities.
If, you, like me, feel that this agreement is the best option, ask PIISD board members to consider pursuing a Chapter 313 with Rio Grande LNG. Our children and our teachers deserve more.
Editor’s Note: Gary Snyder is a Port Isabel resident and president of the Port Isabel Taxpayers League, Inc.
To the Editor:
We respectfully write to express our support for the LNGs and other manufacturing projects.
As the Valley’s economy grows, so does our family-friendly community of Los Fresnos. More and more people are choosing to live in our suburban community and make the short commute to work in Brownsville, Harlingen and elsewhere in the Valley. Among other favorable factors, they appreciate our well-known school district, fun events like our holiday festivals and parades, our PRCA rodeo, and our overall small community quality of life.
We welcome the three proposed LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects and other manufacturing companies to the region because of the many benefits new industry brings. We understand that these projects will be built at or near the Port of Brownsville and will provide well-paying jobs to thousands of workers during construction and thereafter, hundreds of permanent operations jobs.
As young adults and their families come to work in the Valley, we hope that they will consider establishing their homes in Los Fresnos. Our City Council is dedicated to enhancing our quality of life and is focused on places for public recreation. The City is currently constructing another community park, a 20-acre nature park, and hike and bike trails that connect neighborhoods to schools and parks.
Los Fresnos is also a growing popular destination for birders from across the U.S. and the world. After the LNGs and other manufacturing companies satisfy all federal environmental agencies’ requirements, we believe that we can continue to have a growing and thriving eco-tourism industry because responsible industry and ecotourism can co-exist.
Since LNG Project representatives first appeared in the Rio Grande Valley, they have enjoyed strong support from our local community and its leaders. Once all federal agencies provide approval for these projects, we will be delighted to have them as our neighbors.
Los Fresnos Area Chamber of Commerce
Right off the bat, we have a little correcting to do concerning Walter Birdwell’s last letter published 13 July.
Wrong again, Walter. I was not a member of the 112th MI Group at Ft. Holabird, MD. I was a 16-week student in the agent’s course and therefore not in any group or detachment until my assignment to the Canal Zone in the Republic of Panama. My question: Were you trained as a special agent, or did you serve in that capacity?
I know the 1948 Delineations Agreement very well because in the Canal Zone, under that agreement, our detachment served as the F.B.I. in matters of counter intelligence.
The vice chairman and publisher of The Golden Sphinx for the National counter Intelligence Corps Association recently did a two-part story on the “Whistleblower” story surrounding Capt. Christopher Pyle who testified before Congress on several occasions. I am very familiar with the situation as it was covered then.
Wrong again, Walter. We all can recall how busy the F.B.I. was trying to keep up with the hundreds of demonstrations concerning the Vietnam War. Many of those demonstrations were infiltrated, controlled, directed or guided by communist agents and/or sympathizers. The load was too heavy for the F.B.I. Consequently, in some of the F.B.I. field offices they asked for help from CIC offices also located in the areas. CIC agents simply recorded what went on, who was there and what was said and filed their reports with the F.B.I. offices.
Wrong again, Walter. My Declaration of Independence read differently from yours. These are the quotes. You find them. “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”, “endowed by their Creator”, “appealing to the Supreme Judge” and “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”. That counts to four, for me.
Wrong again, Walter. We ARE a Christian nation, in spite of what the likes of yourself and former President Obama may think. You cannot point to divergent thought to prove what you want to. At times, in political discourse, one takes the Deist position to include those who are not followers of Christ, yet follow Christian teachings.
Wrong again, Walter. Your statement that “…income should be distributed according to a person’s work” is right out of the socialist and communist work book. I don’t know how you can write that I am interested in increasing income inequality. No, I want everyone to be able to work and earn to the top of their abilities. And remember, those who may sit at home and count their stock returns are keeping a lot of folks working while they are buying stuff made by others. Everyone wins.
Wrong again, Walter. I assisted the Brownsville Tea Party in organizing a group for our area. It lasted through the next election and served its purpose. It was disbanded, I presume, when the severe need was no longer seen. Brownsville and Harlingen to this day have strong Tea Party groups meeting regularly. You should join and learn something.
Wrong again, Walter. If Walter had read my letter more clearly he would have known that my mentioned trips to Cuba, Eastern Europe and China were not as a tourist, but rather in the first two as a member of a contingent of community journalists who went solely to study the communist system. The China trip was as a part of the largest group of business people to ever go to China to learn how it was progressing toward capitalism and how we might establish stronger business ties.
You have a real problem with your race, your place in life, your government, your business leaders and your country. Why don’t you find a nice socialist or communist country to move to instead of trying to ruin our country. I am certain they will accept you with open arms.
By the way, in my CIC days, I am also quite certain someone would have opened a complaint investigation of you as a possible communist sympathizer or at least a person who is disaffected with his government and country.
Keep trying, Walter.
Duane A. Rasmussen,
Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.