Navigation District Speaks out
Recently, Mr. Richard Shuey, the Libertarian Party candidate for the District 43 State Representative seat, raised some issues regarding leased property and local government in Port Mansfield. Mr Shuey has raised the hopes of lessees in the town that they could some day buy their property, govern themselves and thereby be happy. However, the only way to sell Willacy County Navigation District (WCND) land, according to the Texas Water Code, Chapter 60.038, is to declare certain areas of WCND land "surplus land" which it clearly is not, if it is already leased. A second solution would be to dissolve the Willacy County Navigation District by a majority vote of the taxpayer's of the District. This would trigger a return of the land to the former owner, the El Sauz Ranch. The 1,760 acres which make up Port Mansfield was condemned out of the El Sauz Ranch by Eminent Domain in 1948 and caused a bitter lawsuit between the district and the ranch that did not end until 1954.
Even though local residents can not buy their Port Mansfield property, they could still incorporate into a municipality which would lay on top of the Navigation District land. The leases would remain in effect but Port Mansfield voters could elect their own mayor and city council and hire their own workers. The new city could absorb the Port Mansfield Public Utility District and continue its water, sewer and garbage services. The Navigation District would willingly give over the responsibilities of paving public roads, storm drainage, street lights, building permits, animal control, mosquito spraying, traffic control, roadway mowing, debris haul off, the public swimming pool, the post office building, public restrooms and ordinance enforcement.
The above list of the city responsibilities are all money losers and would need to be funded by the citizens of Port Mansfield through a city tax. Water, sewer and garbage services usually make a little money but all the other services would need an additional budget of $500,000 - $700,000 each year. Port Mansfield has a total appraised tax base of about $29 million, so to fund those services locally each citizen should expect to pay between $1.70 - $2.41/$100 of appraised value. If you own a $100,000 home, your Port Mansfield city tax would range from $1,700- $2,410/year, for the listed services. Cutting services and costs by half would still leave a need to impose a $1.00/$100 of taxable value to fund the new city. Citizens and politicians who call for change need to finish by explaining how a new direction will be paid for and who will pay it.
Michael G. Wilson
Port Director and