HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – The Harlingen Rotary Club was the host for the 2021 State of the City Address at the convention center Friday afternoon.
Harlingen Rotary Club President Wayne Lowry lead the address and talked about excited he was being able to see everyone in person for the first time in a year.
“The year 2020 will indeed go down in history as famous, if not infamous,” began Mayor Chris Boswell after thanking the Rotary Club for their organization of the event and service.
Boswell commended the entire city’s efforts in responding to the ongoing pandemic, highlighting the essential workers that held up the community.
“Somehow, the people of this community hung in there and have arrived at a point not yet out of the tunnel, but where the light is shining more brightly at the end of it,” he said.
“The state of the city is strong,” began Boswell as he moved on to speak on the finances of the city, mentioning that they were sitting on the largest fund balance in the history of the city.
With a budget of $46,507,070, the city collected $52,619,989, leaving them with a total of $6,112,919 in excess property and sales taxes.
Retail sales were only down 1%, as opposed to the anticipated up to 20% as a result of the pandemic.
“COVID-19 does not appear to have affected our finances, and we are as financially strong as ever,” said Boswell.
There was growth in both sales tax revenues and residential construction. The city issued 759 building permits during 2019-2020, valued at $70 million.
Boswell spoke of the new businesses that have or will move to Harlingen, which created an estimate of 1,578 new jobs.
Drainage projects are numerous and ongoing, with some nearing completion, like the 9th and 13th street drainage improvement project. A grant of $6.2 million will fund the regional flood planning study that will serve for 10 years to improve drainage.
To further aid drainage, the Arroyo Colorado Clearing and Dredging Project will be funded with $6 million by the International Water and Boundry Commission. The arroyo will be made deeper, and debris will be cleared to improve flow.
Streets and sidewalks are being added and improved around the city. City sidewalks will expand by 14.7 miles with the help of $4.4 million in grants.
Boswell commended Harlingen Waterworks for keeping water flowing during the cold snap in February where many around the Rio Grande Valley lost water.
Crime is down overall 18%, with violent crime rate decreased by 11%.
Outdoor life improved for the residents of Harlingen, with four park projects completed and miles of added trails for hiking and biking.
The UTRGV School of Medicine Institute of Neuroscience is nearing completion on the 35 acres of land donated by the Harlingen Economic Development.
Boswell proudly gave the update on the “state of the art facility where clinicians and scientists can interact to develop and test new ideas for behavioral health and neurological care.”
The mayor said that the city is honored that Harlingen contributed towards the recent landing of the Mars rover, which came from ULA in Harlingen.
The Harlingen ULA team were responsible for the payload adapter, booster adapter, and centaur adapter fabrication of the rocket. We’re honored that Harlingen played a role in the build of the ULA launch Atlas 5 rocket, and it didn’t blow up.Boswell said as he made reference to the recent SpaceX prototype explosions.
Boswell concluded with a detail look back at the city previous and ongoing response to COVID 19.
The State of the City Address was streamed live on the city’s Facebook page and can be viewed here.