The Rio Grande Herald (Rio Grande City, Tex.), No. 15, Ed. 1 Thursday, February 5, 1987 Page: 1 of 12
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THE RIO GRANDE
Hoas Book Bindery
127 Rail Roa.j-
yprinflPort, Michigan 49204-
Serving Starr County For Five Decades
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Published in Rio Grande City, Texas, Every Thursday By The Rio Grande Publishing Co.
No. 15 THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5,1987
Court Cuts Out $12,000
By KENNETH ROBERTS
Further intense discussion by the
County Commissioners Monday
about whether further cuts in the
1987 county budget are needed
resulted in two changes, amounting
to over $13,000, in the budget.
Taking the brunt of the budget
cuts agreed to Monday was the
Starr County Industrial Founda-
tion, which will have its remaining
$12,000 allocation from the county
County Judge J.M. Martinez, Jr ,
said early Monday afternoon, after
the special Commissioners' Court
meeting had been recesseu for
lunch, that "the consensus of
opinion has been reached for now."
Martinez added, "There seems to
be a duplication (of $1200), perhaps
by error, in the Federal Piogram
Coordinator's travel." He noted
that the commissioners had also
agreed to eliminate the remaining
$12,000 allocated to the Starr
County Industrial Foundation."
A consensus was agreed to that
the court "will take a closer look
every 60 days," to see how the
deficit situation looks, and if
further cuts are needed.
The judge and commissioners
expressed hope that more delin-
quent taxes will be collected with
the hiring of a new law firm-
Heard, Goggan, Blair, Williarit*.
and Harrison of Austin-- for that
purpose, and that increased collec-
tions would eliminate the deficit
Martinez asked, at the end of the
meeting, "Is it my responsibility to
enforce these cuts (approved
earlier)?" Precinct Four Commis-
sioner Reynaldo "Moreno" Alaniz
replied, "It is the commissioners'
court's responsibility ."
Martinez asked, "If they (county
departments) don't bring amended
budgets (by a certain time), can
we amend it for them?" Alaniz
responded, " 11's your prerogative ''
Martinez indicated that if de-
partment budgets are not amended
in a short time and by an as yet
undetermined deadline, "I will not
approve purchase orders for de-
partments that have not amended
Before lunch. Judge Martinez
and Auditor Jose Guadalupe Villar-
real spent much time disagreeing
with Precinct Two Commissioner
Amando Pena and his son,
Fernando, about how big the deficit
Before this debate, the commis-
sioners had gone into executive
session for about 10 minutes to
discuss the possible legal implica-
tions of further cuts that might
result in personnel layoffs.
Fernando Pena, the controller for
the Pena businesses, insisted that
the wrong formula had been used
for figuring collection of taxes.
Villarreal commented, "These
figures (a shortfall of almost
$107,000) are based on what she
(Tax Assessor-Collector Maria
Ofelia Saenz) gave me."
Martinez and Villarreal told
Fernando Pena that he had not
figured a two percent deduction for
fees of office. Villarreal said, "She
(the Tax Assessor) charges the
county a two percent fee for
collection, and it goes to the
treasury as fees of office. It is
deducted from taxes."
Pena insisted, "If I used the
wrong formula, Mr. Chapa (the
former Judge) used the wrong
formula." Martinez asked Pena,
"What are you trying to show? "
Amando Pena replied, "It (the
shortfall in collection) is $58,000,
instead of $106,000." At the start of
the discussion, Fernando Pena had
contended that the shortfall was
After more wrangling, Fernando
Pena summed up his case by
saying, "The county's no longer
with a deficit. We will prove to the
court and the taxpayers that
there's no deficit."
Martinez replied sarcastically,
Oh, My God' ', and added, "If
we're short at the end of the year,
will you put up the money? It's a
matter of addition and subtrac-
The auditor commented, "I never
used any formulas; I used my
When asked by a member of the
audience if he thought there was a
deficit in previous years, Pena
responded that he basically agreed
with that evaluation, but warned,
"We need to rely on CPA reports."
Pena further criticized the evalua-
tions of the auditor, saying that
02 s. • 'v¥
Guadalupe Martinez won an exercise bicycle on
Monday, Jan. 26 as part of the H.E.B./Pepsi Health
Promotion. He won a Diversified Products exercise
A Herald Editori&J
The Herald feels that the change of meetings from
Tuesday to Wednesday nights by the Rio Grande City
school trustees is not necessarily in the best interests of
Tuesday is a traditional meeting night and the public
has grown accustomed to that day and time. To shift the
meeting of a public body to accommodate two
members- who ran to serve is not good.
Another factor involved is the inability of all Starr
County media to promptly report the deliberations of
the board. All newspapers have completed their work
and have been printed by Wednesday night. The public
will get warmed over news more than a week old on
major education matters vital to their interest. Could
this be what the board wants?
We urge that the board consider its rather hasty action
and reset the meetings for Tuesday night.
official had overestimated what the
1986 deficit would be.
Villarreal responded, "We came
out with less deficit in 1986 because
of the 10 percent reduction in
salaries, and reductions of five
percent in budgets. We saved some
$70,000 with reductions in salaries."
He contended that without these
steps, the 1986 deficit would have
been around $400,000, rather than
the actual $219,000
Villarreal said, 'I have audited
the books for 1986 The deficit does
not include some old debts that are
being paid (now) for previous
Martinez insisted, "We've looked
at these figures over and over."
Amando Pena replied, "With the
cut that was made, and the
additional income from the bridge,
there will not be a deficit. It is in
black and white Three entities are
saying that $400,000 (in delinquent
taxes) will be collected. I
guarantee the court and the tax-
payers that there will be no
(See CHANGES, Page 4|
The Rio Grande Herald donated $200 on Tuesday, to the Starr County Historical
Society for the project to attempt restoration of the Robert E. Lee House. Mrs. Pearl
Austin Mathis, part owner and assistant to the Herald publisher,second from left, is
shown presenting the check to Mrs. John A. Pope, Jr., president of the Historical
Society. To Mrs. Mathis's left is local history enthusiast George Edgerton, and to Mrs.
Pope's right is Herald Advertising Manager Rosie Cantu. Edgerton informed The
Herald that $500 had been raised from private donors in Rio Grande City, as of
Delinauent Tax Attorneys Hired
B> KENNETH ROBERTS
The County Commissioners, at
their special meeting Monday,
voted to grant a one-year contract
to a new firm for the collection of
Getting the nod in a unanimous
vote by the three commissioners
present was the Austin law firm of
Heard, Goggan, Blair, Williams,
and Harrison. The Austin-based
firm of Gates. S'een has handled
delinquent tax collection for the
county for the past several years.
After lengthy presentations by
representatives of the three com-
peting firms, Precinct Two Com-
missioner Amando Pena com-
mented, "Being that we are in the
problem we have, the three are
promising money we need...Going
over this in my mind, I think we
should hire a new firm. There are
no strings attached to this."
Pena then moved and Precinct
Four Commissioner Reynaldo
"Moreno" Alaniz seconded, that
Heard, Goggan, and Blair be hired.
The hope w.>s expiessed by the
judge and some of the commission-
ers that increased delinquent tax
collection will play a major role in
alleviating the county's financial
Lupe Zamarippa of Heard,
Goggan, and Blair was the first to
make a presentation. He com-
Abel N. Gonzalez, Jr , who has
served on the Rio Grande City
CISD board of trustees for 12
years, announced this past week
that he will not run for re-election
to the board this year.
Gonzalez provided this statement
to the Rio Gra nde Herald:
"It is with great satisfaction and
appreciation that I leave the
RGCCISD School Board after hav-
ing served 12 years It has been a
very productive 12 years, and I am
proud of having been a part of
many positive changes and im-
provements in our school system
"As our student population in
creases every year, our building
and other needs also increase, and
I am very glad to say that we have
already planned to accommodate
this growth. Our plans include a
new elementary school, cafeterias,
a gymnasium, and also a new band
"Although many encouraged me
to seek re-election, I had decided
some time ago to pursue other
goals at this time
"Finally, I would like to urge the
people of our school district to
always be proud and supportive of
our students, for they are our
' Our alma mater has a proud
and rich tradition and our former
students, who know and have gone
through this school system, will
always see that this proud and rich
tradition continues "
mented, "The commissioners have
been grasping for money. We're
committed to pursuing an ag-
gressive delinquent tax program
and getting that money to you as
soon as possible."
Zamarripa added, "We're going
after high-tax accounts," and
added that his firm could file suits
within 30 to 60 days after delin-
quent tax accounts are turned over
to attorneys on July 1. At last
week's meeting, Zamarripa told
the cortimvssioiiers, "We con file I
100suits witnin 60days."
Zamarippa continued, "We're
going to consolidate the tax rolls,'
suggesting that the Tax Assessor
has not had the resources to have
an updated, accurate delinquent
tax roll on hand.
He added that a toll-free number
in San Antonio would be available
to taxpayers, as would no-expense
calls to the firm's Laredo and
Zamarripa continued, "We will
hire local people (three to six) to
consolidate the tax rolls. Perhaps,
you might want to do this within 60
days I think $1 million is a very
unrealistic figure for the first year
Half a million is a very realistic
Zamarripa gave his rough
guestimate that this year's delin
quency is approximately $450,000
But he warned, "Don't mix apples
and oranges to get peaches "
Judge J.M. Martinez, Jr . asked,
"If we don't know how much
money is delinquent, how can you
project how much will be col-
lected?" Zamarripa replied, "My
best guess is that you have $2.5
million. I'm not going to give you
inflated figures to get your busi-
ness If we have $15 million, we're
still looking at $500,000 "
Concerning the actual delin-
quency figure, Henry Steen of
Gates-Steen said, "We have $1.3
million to $1.4 million on the
delinquent tax roll, consolidated."
Villarreal said that a CPA firm
hired by the county in the past had
indicated a figure of about $1.5
Zamarripa told Judge Martinez,
"I would say we could collect
$400,000 to $500,000. Consolidation
would be done at our expense and
save you a lot of money. Usually,
law firms have six months to clean
up what they've started. After that,
we're right behind them
Attorney Dale Linebarger made
the presentation for the Austin firm
of Calame, Linebarger, and
Graham He commented, "We've
been working in Starr County for 10
years We're familiar with your
records." due to a report required
by the state property tax board.
Linebarger stressed, "You first
have to make sure what's outstand-
ing, and what is potentially col-
lectable" He added that roughly
$2,692,000 is owed the county in
delinquent taxes at this time,
(See ATTORNEY S. Page 9)
By BONNER MATHIS
Hernando Cortez, of Rio Grande
City, was acquitted of aggravated
robbery Friday, Jan 30. at 6:30
p.m., after deliberations which
began at 11:30 am. He was
released later that evening
Cortez was arrested along with
Esteban Lopez Jr. on Aug 18 and
charged with committing a bur-
glary that occurred earlier that
morning Lopez is still awaiting
The two men were arrested at
Lopez's house, where weapons
taken in the burglary were found.
According to Attorney John A
Pope Jr., who represented the
defendant, the weakness in the
prosecution's case was that the
only witnesses who testified against
Cortez based their testimony on
audio identification, but no visual
identification was made.
"The state did a good job when
they found those weapons in the
same quarter" where the men
where sleeping, the attorney added
"I think they wanted to plant a
seed of doubt" in the jury based on
the audio identification, said
Assistant District Attorney
"Gocha" Ramirez, who prosecuted
the case. The victims of the
robbery were Cortez's first cousins,
the prosecuting attorney explained.
"That is why we thought we had
voice identification," he said
The men who committed the
robbery wore handkerchiefs over
their faces, so no visual identifica-
tion was possible.
Pope, who is also representing
Lopez, said "I think the situation is
different" in Lopez's trial One
point he made is that the stolen
weapons were found in Lopez's
home He also added that the state
might produce a different set of
witnesses in that case.
The two men were arrested at
Lopez's home after investigators
traced sets of tennis shoe prints
from the scene of the crime to
where the men were sleeping.
The men who robbed the Isidoro
Galvan residence forced the family
to lay on the floor while they
ransacked the house for about 30
minutes Some items, mostly
(See ROBBERY . Page 8|
. >Ytx.l &J
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The grand opening for Erasmo's Liquor Store in Rio Grande Cilv was held Friday.
Erasmo Canales, the store owner, is pictured above cutting the ribbon. To Canales'
right is Chamber of Commerce president I.eonel Lopez. To Lopez's right are R.C.
Salinas and Triple I Furniture store owner Lauro I lx>pe/,.
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Roberts, Kenneth. The Rio Grande Herald (Rio Grande City, Tex.), No. 15, Ed. 1 Thursday, February 5, 1987, newspaper, February 5, 1987; Edinburg, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth195066/m1/1/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rio Grande City Public Library.