In all my years in public service, I have been a good steward of the public trust and taxpayer money. After serving as Hidalgo County Clerk, I was elected Hidalgo County Judge and was immediately confronted with many serious problems facing the County.
When I first took office, there were only $75,000 in the General Fund. It was a serious situation that required immediate action. Hiring and wages were frozen, travel was cut by 50%, purchasing was restricted and many other measures were implemented to drastically cut spending. Within three months, the budget was stabilized.
It has always been important to me to have an effective pay scale for County employees that paid fair wages and was standardized and uniform. By September 1999, the County was able to begin the two year process of implementing a ‘living wage’ that kept County Employees in alignment with the Federal minimum wage.
By 2001, we had moved to implement a pay scale system that would standardize pay rates for all employees based on education and seniority. Implementing this step and pay system for County Employees was important, but it was also had to be done in a way that used sound financial planning. More details and information about the County Pay Scale can be found on my website under the Issues Link.
Another very serious and urgent problem facing the County when I took office was the over crowding of the County Jail. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards had been citing the Hidalgo County Jail for over crowding since 1992, causing the jail to operate with a conditional certificate and requiring that overcrowding be addressed by housing these inmates in the other facilities.
The County spent $2.1 Million in 1999 to house inmates in La Villa and other jails around the State. The expected cost of housing these inmates was expected to reach $3.5 to $4 Million by the end of 2000.
To pay for the $48 Million to build the jail, the County raised taxes 5 cents per $100 of valuation for the tax year 2001. The new jail would initially house 1200 inmates, with infrastructure for expansion to 2,000 beds.
I was determined to keep the tax increase low as taxes among school districts had also been increased. With the increase in taxes within the school districts, we wanted to keep ours as low as possible.
I am still very committed to maintaining a conservative tax plan and to doing what needs to be done to reduce County taxes. Keeping county taxes low also allow any tax increases that do occur to be available to school districts for education – without causing an additional tax burden on our citizens. More on Taxes and Budget can be found on the Issues Link on my website.
As a Full Time County Judge, during my four year tenure, I was able to accomplish many other things and if elected again, will remain a full time judge. A few of these accomplishments include: building a new county jail, Juvenile Detention Center, and Adult Restitution Center, hiring additional deputies to patrol the rural areas of the county with additional vehicles, reducing unemployment by developing a Work Development Board.
We also built a Veteran’s Cemetery and Retirement Home, enforced zoning requirements for infrastructure needs in colonias, standardized employee pay and benefits, created the Hidalgo County Health Services District for indigent health care, and aggressively worked to attract new business and industry to Hidalgo County.
The important part to remember or realize from the above is that I have worked hard, set ambitious and significant goals, accomplished what I said I was going to do while overseeing and maintaining a fiscally sound budget. This is who I am and what you can count on from me as your next Hidalgo County Judge.
Eloy Pulido, January 19, 2017