Hidalgo County water district - flagged by auditors for spending that exceeded revenues - approves staff pay raises

money

At first blush, a South Texas water district’s 10 percent raise to employees who haven’t seen such a thing since 2003 is an ‘it’s about time’ prospect.

When the entity giving out the raise was found in a state audit released three months ago to have spent more than it took in since at least 2008, the raises for 10 employees become more significant, even though the estimated cost will be a paltry $25,000.

The audit of the Hidalgo County Water Improvement District No. 3 was a scathing review that alleged the district paid more than $106,000 to companies with links to District 3 President and General Manager Othal E. Brand Jr. The district operates without a conflict-of-interest policy. Brand recused himself in votes involving his business interests, according to a report in the McAllen Monitor.

The raises will be covered by a 33 percent increase in water rates, which was approved in July on the heels of the audit and its allegations.

At the time the increase was approved, Brand said it would raise about $300,000 and cited the audit as the spur for the higher rates.  In addition to the pay increase, the district hopes to hire two more administrators, Brand said.

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Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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