Board member says securing water rights now critical
Water Policy Advisory Committee member Gene Hendrick stressed the importance of finding sources of funding to help Clovis secure water rights during a meeting Tuesday morning at city hall.
“We can’t wait 15 to 20 years,” he said of the ongoing discussion of what to do about Clovis’ water supply.
“We need to take action now. ... We need to be proactive.”
Hendrick tossed out the idea of a tax increase but stopped short of supporting such a move. He noted an action taken by the village of Ruidoso, which proposed during the 2009 legislative session to have state law amended to allow the village and Ruidoso Downs to raise their gross receipts tax by one-half of a percent.
The two municipalities were facing a state and federally mandated sewage treatment plant that would cost $26 million, according to a 2011 article in the Ruidoso-News.
State legislation was signed by then-Gov. Bill Richardson to allow for the tax increase for environmental needs. The measure is crafted in such a way that it only applies to Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs.
Without the amendment, the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department would have allowed the village to increase the tax only by one-sixteenth of a percent.
“One-sixteenth (of a percent) would not have done what they needed to do,” said Hendrick. “It was difficult, but they did get it approved.”
Hendrick said he encountered the Ruidoso case in his search for ideas Clovis can adopt to raise funds.
Clovis’ current gross receipts tax is 7.8125 percent. Should Clovis increase the tax by one-half of a percent, it would be 8.3125 percent, Hendrick said.
The increase would mean an additional $.50 cents in tax for every $100 of taxable purchases, Hendrick said.
Although no one supports a tax increase, Hendrick said, “it’s going to take a lot of money to do what we need to do,” referring to the procurement of water rights.
He said that even if his ideas are not the “right” ideas for attaining a sustainable water supply, perhaps someone else’s idea is. The point is to discuss viable solutions to Clovis’ water issues, he said.
“We’ve just been waiting too long to get something going on this,” he said.
Funding possibilities for water will be on the agenda for the next meeting of the Water Policy Advisory Committee Board on Aug. 12.
City Engineer Justin Howalt and EPCOR District Manager Brian Daly gave water updates.
Howalt said the Water Trust Board sent the city an official letter stating the city has been approved for $3.2 million for its effluent reuse project.
The reuse project was made possible with an initial application to the Water Trust Board in 2011 that resulted in the city receiving $4.1 million. The money helped in the construction of the effluent reuse treatment plant, which treats water so that it may be used for dust control and compaction.
Furthermore, Howalt said, the water reuse project is set to receive new chlorine pumps.
Daly said three of Clovis’ wells will have to be retired soon.
The wells are all located south of Clovis, Daly said.
Daly said 189 million gallons of water were delivered to Clovis customers in June.