By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
The fate of the forlorn Dolly Vinsant Memorial Hospital may now be in the hands of San Benito city officials to decide.
Dolly went to auction early in November at the courthouse steps in Brownsville and received one bid of $10,000 by Southern Counties Investment Group, LLC. The facility has been appraised at an estimated $1,020,356.
Dolly is presently owned by three taxing entities – the City of San Benito, San Benito CISD and Cameron County – in which $284,000 in back-owed taxes are owed for 2010 and 2011, and taxes owed for 2012. All entities must vote to approve the offer from Southern Counties or it will become null.
At the last meeting of the San Benito City Commission, after meeting with attorneys in closed session, commissioners with Mayor Joe H. Hernandez voted to table the offer until the other taxing entities had reviewed the bid.
The county met last week and unanimously approved the offer. At a special meeting of the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District on Thursday, November 29, trustees voted to approve the $10,000 bid.
According to City Secretary Lupita Passement, Dolly will be placed on the agenda of the city’s next scheduled meeting, slated for December 4 at the Municipal Building.
School Board Trustee Oscar Medrano said Thursday that he would like to extend his gratitude to the group known as Save Dolly, for the work they’ve done over the last several months to bring attention to the building’s potential. Medrano specifically thanked the group’s founder, San Benito Rotary Club President Lionel Betancourt, and “everyone who has been a part of the Save Dolly” campaign.
From the total sale, the City of San Benito stands to see a little over $146,000. John Guevara of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, and Sampson, tax attorneys representing the three entities, mentioned that Dolly could go back up on the auction block in June of 2013 if the offer is not approved by the city and no additional private offers are received. Also according to Guevara, it’s not presently known what the group plans to do with the facility if their bid is approved.
“I am disappointed that the school and the county voted in favor of accepting the bid because no one seems to know what the investment group will do with the facility,” said Betancourt, whose desire is for Dolly to re-open as a medical facility. Betancourt continued, “I hope there can be some way to know what the buyers plan for the group. Hopefully, we find this out in a short time, sooner than later.”
Betancourt said he plans to attend the December 4 meeting of the city commission.
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