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Agua Special Utility District executive director announces his resignation

Executive Director Oscar Cancino announced his resignation from the Agua Special Utility District on Monday — and recommended the board replace him with a traditional general manager.

Executive Director Oscar Cancino announced his resignation from the Agua Special Utility District on Monday — and recommended the board replace him with a traditional general manager.

Cancino announced the move, but didn’t actually submit a resignation letter Monday afternoon. He plans to keep working until the utility district hires a general manager.

“I’d like to announce that I’m leaving my post with the district to continue my work with the private sector,” said Cancino, who owns STRADA Engineering and Consulting of McAllen. “I’m confident that at this moment Agua SUD is in a good, stable position to continue in the positive direction it has begun.”

Governed by a seven-member board, the utility district serves more than 15,000 water customers in western Hidalgo County.

Cancino replaced Executive Director Julio Cerda, who resigned during a major shakeup in September 2016.

Working with Cancino, the board dramatically reduced the fee for new water meters and started a major sewer project in Palmview.

"He did an amazing job,” said board President Rogelio “Roger” Hernandez III. “I'm super proud of everything he did.”

The utility district paid Cancino about $103,000 annually, according to salary records. He supervised more than 60 employees.

While working for the utility district, though, Cancino also handled unrelated drainage projects in San Juan and Sullivan City. Cancino’s predecessor had a similar arrangement, which occasionally took him away from day-to-day operations.

Both Cancino and Hernandez said the other jobs didn’t interfere with utility district business.

The board met Monday to consider replacing the executive director position with a more traditional general manager.

After just two minutes of public discussion, the board met with Cancino and three attorneys — state Rep. Oscar Longoria, state Rep. Eddie Lucio III and Javier Peña — in executive session.

Cancino announced his resignation after they returned.

“It is my hope that the future administration of this district will continue to responsibly manage district operations,” Cancino said, adding that the utility district must safeguard customer money, comply with state regulations and remain transparent.

Board Director Ricardo Ochoa said Cancino’s decision to resign disappointed him.

“I really expected you to stay for the long run,” Ochoa said. “To be able to finish all the sewer projects.”

Cancino said he considered the utility district job a temporary assignment and promised to help with the transition.

Moments later, the board voted to “phase out” his job.

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