Agua SUD director resigns, position to be phased out

PALMVIEW — Oscar Cancino, the executive director of the Agua Special Utility District, announced his resignation Monday as the district seeks to eliminate the position.

Cancino said his time at Agua, the nonprofit corporation that provides water services to western Hidalgo County, was always meant to be temporary, according to Javier Peña, an attorney working for Agua SUD. With his departure, Peña said, the utility district will begin phasing out the executive director role and hire a general manager.

“I believe his private businesses are starting to take off and with the projects being in positions where they are, I think this is a good enough time as any to start that transition,” Peña said.

Cancino is president of STRADA Engineering and Consulting. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Agua Board Director Ricardo Ochoa said he was disappointed that Cancino would resign while the Palmview Wastewater Project, a long-awaited project meant to bring sewer services to Palmview, was still underway.

“We’re in the middle of the project. There are so many problems, so many delays going on, there are so many things happening,” Ochoa said. “I was disappointed that he would quit and leave us with this big project going on.”

Peña believes Cancino felt the project is going in the right direction.

“(Cancino)’s willing to stay on and help in the transition,” he said. “He’s not just taking off, so there is a continuity of services and negotiation and everything else.”

Cancino was appointed in October 2016 to replace the former executive director, Julio Cerda, who was the first to hold the post. The position was created in 2015 to oversee the general manager position which at the time was filed by Frank Flores. Flores later left Agua SUD and the general manager role has been vacant ever since.

“There was an issue between (Flores) and the board and the position of the director was invented to essentially take some of the responsibility away from the general manager at the time without firing him because he was under contract,” Peña said. “So it was kind of an artificial creation at the time which caused some issues with the power structure.”

The general manager position was created by statute so instead of having two positions at the head, the board decided to simply consolidate the positions, according to Peña.

“It just makes it simpler,” he said.