Wednesday, January 25, 2017


By Juan Montoya
During a recent presentation for the city commission by Estrada and Hinojosa, the City of Brownsville's financial consultants, a proposal for the city to "borrow" $27.9 million from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation was floated by Noe Hinojosa.

Hinojosa called the GBIC an "enterprise" fund that could be used to pay for the debt for construction of the new airport terminal as part of the city's proposed 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan. But people started wondering whether pauing the airport's debt with the funds generated by the 4A Economic Development Sales Tax passed by Brownsville residents by a vote in 1992 is an appropriate use of the GBIC monies.

In 2016, the GBIC received $4,767,911 from the city's share of sales taxes.

The GBIC was formed to oversee the disbursement of a ¼ cent sales tax collected in Brownsville meant to fund job creation incentives and various grant programs related to infrastructure and education. Central to its mission, GBIC has traditionally required that  a "qualifying company could expect Job Creation Incentives from the GBIC and these incentives normally ranged from $2,000 to $10,000 per job. The Job Creation Incentives are performance based and usually paid after anniversary date reviews and the program seeks to reward those companies that pay wages in excess of $10 per hour and provide benefits to their employees."

Now, we all know that the airport has been subsidized by the city's general fund and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration forever. It has never been self sustaining. So the question then becomes: Can we believe – as Estrada told the city commissioners – that at some time in the future, it will actually be able to repay the $27,9 million meant for job creation? How many jobs – after the terminal is finished – will the $27.9 million actually create?
"To qualify for incentives the applying company must be willing to provide financial data on their company, including and not limited to audited financials and federal tax returns for the previous three years and all information is handled confidentially. Once due diligence is completed on the company and an economic impact analysis is completed, an incentives offer is prepared and submitted for approval by the GBIC.

Job Creation Incentives are used to support new companies to Brownsville and established local companies that are considered to be primary job creators. Due to the nature of the incentives and the due diligence required, startup companies are not normally considered for incentives under the Job Creation Incentives program. Other programs may be more suitable in support of startups."

We now have three city commissioners on the GBIC board. They are Jessica Tetreau, Deborah Portillo and Cesar de Leon. John Cowen and Cameron County Treasurer David Betancourt round out the board.

If and when the board approves the loan to the airport, how will they justify that expenditure when the mission of the GBIC is to provide incentives for job creation, and not to subsidize failing municipal airports?


Anonymous said...

Might as well use the money on the airport before Oscar Garcia comes up with a new scam and these idiots give Him the money .

Anonymous said...

Before any funds are authorized for transfer to the city, this matter should be brought to a State agency to make sure it meets all legal requirements.

Anonymous said...

Our airport is a very important part of the city,the problem is that many people like you don't support our airport and rather go fly from the other valley airports.