Apart from the ground breaking ceremony, a memorandum of understanding was signed to further the creation of a hospital taxing district that could help sustain the cost of the medical school.
The official ground breaking for the new school of medicine was met with a resounding applause.
Multiple officials and educational leaders welcomed the start of the construction of the 88 thousand square feet building that will house multiple classrooms and future medical students.
Just 2 years since the university of Texas System chancellor brought forward the initial proposal that has now merged the universities at Edinburg and Brownsville and created the new medical program.
“It’s hard for me to imagine being involved in something this big, and transformative, and life-saving than creating a school of medicine,” explains Francisco Cigarroa, University of Texas System chancellor.
But with an annual cost of about 60 million to run the school, a strong economic support is needed for its sustainability.
During the past months, some government officials have proposed a hospital taxing district, which would raise property taxes on hidalgo county residents, something no everyone agrees with.
“It’s going to be an extra tax and some people don’t have it. We need to make them very abreast that they need to go vote in favor or against,” explains Norberto Salinas, mayor for the city of Mission.
But after agreeing that the tax hike wouldn’t go over 25 cents, the cities of McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr, and mission along with the county commission, decided to commit to 4.75 million dollars a year over 10 years.
This in addition to the private, state and federal monies for the university.
“We have to look at expanding the tax base. In a long-term basis, it will not increase property taxes; in a long-term basis it will stabilize them and maybe lower property taxes because of the expansion of the tax base,” says Juan Hinojosa, Texas state Senator, (D-20).
So it will be up to voters in November who will decide on a proposed 8 cent tax increase. A decision that could ensure funding for the medical school and bring with it the medical and economic benefits, or, as some argue, it could hurt the pockets of families in the valley.
If all goes as planned, the new medical building will be ready for the first generation of medical students 2 years from now.