2017-03-15 / Front Page

MTC pays $63 million for closed prison as possible detention facility for illegal aliens awaiting deportation

BY TONY VINDELL
Reporter


WILLACY COUNTY CORRECTION DETENTION CENTER. 
(Photo by TonyVindell) WILLACY COUNTY CORRECTION DETENTION CENTER. (Photo by TonyVindell) The deal to sell the Willacy County Correctional Detention Center was closed Friday afternoon.

The Utah- based Management Training Corp. is now the owner of the complex that includes 10 Kevlar tents, the administration building and a brick building. The prison facility shutdown more than two years ago after a riot by inmates.

County Judge Aurelio “Kete” Gruerra said the deal is done.

“ The closing took place Friday and everything went according to the deal,” he said. “We no longer have obligations to the bond holders and all we can do is to wait until the facility opens again.”

Guerra said it cost about $68 million to build the prison and the deal the county made with MTC could amount to anywhere from $60 to $68 million.

As for the financial benefits the county would get from the prison reopening, Guerra said up to $2 million in property tax revenues will be generated under MTC ownership.

In addition to that, the county will get a daily fee for each inmate once MTC gets a contract to house inmates.

Asked how that is going to work now that the prison is in private hands, Guerra said that’s how the contract reads.

He also said the per diem has not been determined at this point.

Mayor Gilbert Gonzales and Eleazar “Yogi” Garcia, the city manager, said reopening the prison will benefit the city.

“This is going to result in more jobs, property taxes and revenues in water and sewer,” he said. “We are talking more than $ 300,000 or more in utilities per year.”

But the priority here, the mayor said, is the creation of jobs.

Garcia said if the prison was sold for $63 million the city will get about $474,000 based on a tax collection rate of 100 percent.

If not, $400,000 will be more realistic.

In sewer and water revenues, 1,000 beds could generate another $20,000 a month.

By the same token, the Raymondville school district should get about $700,000 a year based on a tax rate of $1.17 for every $100 of valuation.

Sergio Molina, senior vice president for business development and administration with MTC, said they aren’t in the position of hiring anybody or accepting applications at the moment.

Neither are they talking about repairing or opening the detention center although the judge expects the tents to be torn down.

“The process for us is getting a contract (to house inmates),” he said. “But we are setting up discussions with our contractors to get an idea how we are going to repair the facility.”

Molina said their staff is communicating with potential customers.

He said the plan is to provide beds for up to 1,000 inmates.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons had a $500-milliona year contract with MTC at the shutdown prison. They have prepared an environmental study for potential impacts of contracting with privatelyowned and - operated correctional facilities to house up to 3,600 adult, non- U. S. citizen, federal low security inmates.

Each selected facility would house from 1,200 to 1,800 inmates for up to 10 years.

Seven facilities have been evaluated and are located in five Texas cities - Raymondville, Big Spring, Groesbeck, Pecos and Post.

The facilities are expected to house illegal aliens awaiting deportation.

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