2015-05-13 / Front Page

County, city delegation heading to D.C. to discuss prison

BY TONY VINDELL
Reporter

A delegation of county and city officials is going to Washington, D.C. next week to discuss the dire economic situation caused by the shut down of the biggest prison in town.

A meeting with Federal Bureau of Prisons officials was arranged by Congressman Filemon Vela at the request of County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra.

Guerra and Commissioners Eddie Gonzales and Oscar De Luna are planning to join City Manager Eleazar “Yogi” Garcia and Mayor Orlando “Lonnie” Correa on the trip.

The board of the Willacy County Local Government Corp.will approve all the expenses incurred by the trip during a meeting this Thursday.

BOP signed a 10-year $532 million contract with the Management Training Corp. to house low security prisoners at the jail built by the county through a bond issue.

Under the BOP contract, the county was entitled to receive $2.50 per inmate per day, amounting to more than $7,000 a day based on an inmate population of 50 percent plus one of all beds available.

Also, an estimated 150 people out of a workforce of 400 are from Willacy County.

The loss of 150 jobs translates into an annual payroll of $4.5 million based on a hourly wage of $15 per hour, according to conservative estimates.

The annual payroll of the 250 employees who also lost their jobs at the prison amounts to $7.5 million altogether.

On Monday and Tuesday, the board of the Raymondville Economic Development Corp. and the city commission approved travel requests for Garcia and Correa.

Garcia said the prison closure is now having the adverse impact they knew was coming.

He said the city is losing more than $40,000 a month in water and sewer fees the prison was generating.

Garcia said the last invoice they received from the prison was a little more than $3,000.

He said the city is also bound to lose more than $100,000 a year in sale taxes.

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