Agua SUD retracts $1,000 election filing fee

A controversial move has the Hidalgo County Agua Special Utility District backtracking.

A controversial move has the Hidalgo County Agua Special Utility District backtracking.

This comes after they tried to implement a $1,000 filing fee to run for the May 2018 Board of Director’s election.

"They have no authority by statute, by law to file a filing fee," said District 20 State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa.

CBS 4 reached out to Agua SUD on several occasions, but they did return our calls for an interview.

On Wednesday night, the district released a statement saying in part, "…with the cost of running the election at approximately $30,000 the district was interested in identifying ways to offset the costs."

They added that the fee was to ensure potential candidates were serious about serving and understood the responsibility.

But, Hinojosa thinks the cost was excessive.

"Not too many people can afford $1,000 to run for the board of directors for Agua SUD. Number two, to discourage people from running. Number three, they don't want any competition."

Hinojosa contacted the utility district and advised them that the move was illegal.

"The other point is they don't have the authority under statute, under water code, and the statute that created Agua SUD, they do not have authority to set those type of filing fees," added Hinojosa.

In their statement, Agua SUD went on to say that after legal recommendation, they would not require a filing fee for candidates and were just "interested in aligning fees with what is typically assessed" like among neighboring municipalities and governments.

“To run for the Texas legislature, state representative—we don't even charge that much. We charge about $400. As a filing fee to run for the Texas Senate, it’s about a thousand dollars plus, so to charge a $1,000 to run for the Agua SUD board is really excessive and unfair," said Hinojosa.

On a local level, CBS 4 News reached out McAllen Commissioner Veronica Whitacre, who says the filing fee to run for city commissioner is only $250. The mayor filing fee costs $500.

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