Mayor says McAllen’s can-do spirit drove 2023 successes

dfwnewsa | February 7, 2024 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

McAllen experienced a banner year in 2023 across all sectors, from the economy, to public safety, to quality of life.

That was the message Mayor Javier Villalobos shared with attendees of McAllen’s annual “state of the city address,” which was held at the McAllen Convention Center on Wednesday.

The mayor, who positively beamed throughout his nearly hour-long speech highlighting McAllen’s long list of successes, attributed those achievements to the city’s can-do attitude, which he distilled down into a simple refrain.

“Today, the spirit of McAllen is shining through. And this spirit is one of optimism that drives to say, ‘In McAllen, if we can, we will!’” Villalobos proudly proclaimed as he took the stage before hundreds of local dignitaries, business leaders, city staffers and more.


“This spirit of McAllen is what drove us to victories this past year. It is what inspires us to take on the challenges of today and tomorrow,” the mayor continued.

Piece by piece, Villalobos punctuated each of McAllen’s successes with that refrain, “In McAllen, if we can, we will.”

Even as national headlines scream of a crisis at the border, McAllen, which Villalobos touted as an international city, has climbed the ranks in terms of safety from the time that he served as a city commissioner to now, when he serves as the city’s top leader.

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“Thanks to the efforts of our residents, our guests, together with the efforts of our first responders, McAllen was declared the third safest city in the United States,” the mayor said with punch.

“We are a good city! We are a safe city!” he added.

McAllen also bucked national trends on housing after being named the third-most affordable cities for homebuyers, the mayor said.

In 2023, as property tax valuations skyrocketed, city leaders approved a third consecutive decrease to the property tax rate.

“McAllen’s low property tax rate are part of a blueprint and a plan for a fiscally responsible municipal government. And we are proud of our actions,” Villalobos proclaimed.

McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos delivers the McAllen State of the City address at the McAllen Convention Center on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, in McAllen. (Courtesy photo)

Nonetheless, the city is flush with funds.

In the fall, the McAllen City Commission approved a record $661 million fiscal budget, which included more than $144 million in the city’s general fund — enough to fund more than six months of daily operating expenses.

That budgetary success is also due in no small part to McAllen’s bumper sales tax revenue collections.

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“We created an environment where our businesses earned record-breaking sales tax revenue of $93.7 million, and we wisely reinvested into our community through the most ambitious budget ever,” Villalobos said.

The mayor went on to describe how McAllen took those financial windfalls and used them to invest back into the city — from approving raises and longevity pay for city staffers, to investing in infrastructure improvements on McAllen’s streets, its libraries and other public spaces.

“McAllen once again delivered tax relief, improved our infrastructure and compensated our civil servants and peace officers. We invested in education, transit, libraries, firefighters, international bridges, nonprofits, and most importantly, we invested in our residents,” he added.

As he spoke of the city’s commitment to investing in itself for the betterment of McAllen’s future, Villalobos also spoke of another variable that has been important to the city’s successes — its partnerships.

Along with investing heavily in tangible things, like drainage or parks, McAllen has also heavily invested in partnerships with other local government entities, such as McAllen ISD and Hidalgo County.

It has invested in partnerships with nonprofits to provide quality of life services.

Mayor says McAllen’s can-do spirit drove 2023 successes 2
City officials during the McAllen State of the City address at the McAllen Convention Center on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, in McAllen. (Courtesy photo)

It has invested in business partnerships to fuel economic growth. It has invested with higher education institutions, such as UTRGV, South Texas College and Texas A&M in order to fuel the successes of today’s students tomorrow.

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And McAllen has invested in municipal partnerships by fostering more than a dozen sister city relationships with cities in Mexico. Last year, McAllen even went as far as creating an entirely new department of international relations, Villalobos said.

It’s all part and parcel of the city’s overarching investment into its own future, the mayor said.

“The spirit of McAllen shines brightest when we work towards the better future for the next generations,” Villalobos said.

Even with all of the things that McAllen accomplished in 2023, it’s the future, the mayor said, that will surely be brighter.

“It was the year I saw the spirit of McAllen shine and I believe the best is yet to come because, if we can, we will! In McAllen, if we can, we will!” Villalobos said.

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