By J. NOEL ESPINOZA
Special to the NEWS
After an executive session seeking legal advice and compromise to get local representation, the San Benito City Commission approved a resolution supporting a merger among three Metropolitan Planning Organizations in the Rio Grande Valley.
The city commission approved the measure during a special meeting Monday evening after Harlingen also approved a similar resolution the same day in the morning. According to reports, Rio Grande Valley leaders met in Weslaco Tuesday to sign an agreement for the merger, approving the resolution.
San Benito, which is part of the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization, is joining the Brownsville Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Organization, a union that local political leaders expect will bring more clout and more financial resources for transportation infrastructure, local highways, and funding allocations.
San Benito Mayor Benjamin “Ben” Gomez said joining the other local MPOs is going to help bring more money from the state and federal governments.
“It’s going to help everybody as a whole,” Gomez said. “It means more money when there is a merger like that.”
In the beginning, Gomez, who serves as chairman of the local MPO, said they were reluctant to approve the contract because they took away San Benito’s representation at the table.
“At first, we always had a chair and they turned around and they took our chair off,” Gomez said. “That’s why I didn’t sign it.”
Without having representation and voting rights, Gomez said he saw no benefits for San Benito.
“It was good for everybody else,” Gomez said. “It was not in the favor of San Benito. I’m here for San Benito. I’m not here for the valley or Cameron County.”
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