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San Benito hires legislative consultant

November 11, 2018

SAN BENITO — The city has tapped a powerbroker to work the state capitol.

This past week, city commissioners met in closed session with City Manager Manuel De La Rosa before announcing Parker McCollough will serve as legislative consultant during the upcoming legislative session.

As part of an agreement, the city will pay McCollough, a veteran lobbyist, monthly payments of $4,000 totaling $48,000 a year.

“ I believe the city can benefit from Mr. McCollough’s experience and contacts to assist with regulatory matters, bolster economic development and navigate the many legislative issues that may affect the city of San Benito in the coming legislative session,” De La Rosa stated.

McCollough was recommended by “outside professionals in the same field,” De La Rosa stated.

“ I was impressed with his background,” he stated. “His circle of clients, who also recommended him, are people I know personally.”

An attorney who served in the state Legislature from 1989 to 1993, McCollough has 30 years experience as a lobbyist specializing in the utility and energy sector.

“ He understands the legislative process and he has strong relationships with state-wide officials in the Senate and House as well as legislative staffs,” De La Rosa stated.

De La Rosa said McCollough will represent the city as it faces a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality order to upgrade its sewer system.

“ The city has dealings with several state agencies, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, that we need to work with them on,” De La Rosa stated.

TCEQ’s order stems from the city’s series of sewage spills near the Arroyo Colorado from November 2009 to January 2010.

In October 2012, the city entered into a TCEQ program in which it agreed to overhaul its sewer system by March 2023 or face severe fines and penalties.

Now, the city is searching for grant money to fund an $8.5 million project to upgrade six sewer lift stations.

McCollough referred questions to De La Rosa.

McCollough has wide experience in the energy field.

From 2013 to 2017, he served as vice president for governmental affairs for NRG Energy in Austin after working as vice president for government affairs for Entergy Texas Inc. from 1996 to 2013.

City spokeswoman Martha McClain did not disclose whether the city previously contracted a legislative consultant.

Many cities work with legislative consultants and lobbyists.

In September, the city of Harlingen renewed a two-year contract with Terral Smith and William Yarnell, paying them $10,000 a month.

In July, the city agreed to pay the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce $1,500 a month to allow Chris Gonzales, its president and chief executive officer, to serve as a legislative liaison in Austin and Washington, D.C.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com

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