Hidalgo County Approves New Contract for Courthouse
EDINBURG – Hidalgo County is now one step closer in getting a new courthouse. This week the county approved an agreement with Jacobs Project Management Company.
"They were not the first one they were the second firm that we considered,” explained Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia.
This comes after months of progress was lost when county leaders decided to not move forward on negotiations with Dannenbaum Engineering.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS was there in April when Dannenbaum was raided by the FBI.
Garcia said Jacob’s originally wanted $8.5 million to sign onto the project. Now through negotiations they’ve agreed to do it for $4.5 million.
"This project is being paid for without any increase to the tax rate of the county,” said Garcia. “There will be no tax increase associated with the construction of our courthouse."
The current courthouse was originally built to house two district courts and one county court of law in 1954, according to Garcia. Now it’s home to more than 20 courts.
Mission Mayor Norberto Salinas said he's worried taxpayers who live in his city and across Hidalgo County will be stuck footing the bill.
“If they build this courthouse, it's going to be a very, very expensive project all of us are going to have to pay for,” said Salinas.
Salinas said he would like to see the issue go to a ballot so voters have a chance to share their opinion. He believes the county could get a better deal if they relocate the courthouse out of Edinburg. He said he wishes there was more involvement from officials outside of the commissioners court.
"They didn’t call a single meeting of all the mayors of Hidalgo County. That’s what they should've done to begin with,” he said.
Construction on the project was supposed to begin this summer. Judge Garcia said that’s not going to happen.
The county expects to hire an architect within the next three to four weeks. After that, they’ll look to hire a contractor. Garcia said he hopes they’ll have the entire construction team in place by the end of the year to begin work on the project.
In a statement, the county reported two firms, previously nominated to be considered for the design and construction of the courthouse, presented their designs and took questions from commissioners court on Tuesday.
They said the court will use the presentations in grading the two firms – HDR, Architecture, Inc. and Hellmutt, Obata, Kassabaum, L.P. – to rank them as part of the selection process.