The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Curry declines services agreement

 

CLOVIS — Curry County commissioners on Tuesday declined a proposed agreement with the city of Clovis to share services.

The vote was 3-2.

Commissioners Robert Thornton and Chet Spear, who negotiated the agreement with Clovis City Commissioners Ladona Clayton and Sandra Taylor-Sawyer, voted in favor of adopting the agreement while Commissioners Ben McDaniel, Angelina Baca and Seth Martin opposed the motion.

The previous agreement between the city and the county expired in 2016. The new proposed agreement did not change the services the county and city provide for each other or the city's monthly payments totaling $130,000 a year to the county. But it would have added a one-time $1 million payment and annual $35,000 payments from Curry County to Clovis.

The county's payments would have gone toward the Clovis Master Water Assurance Plan and the city's payments would have gone toward the housing of detainees at the county's detention center.

The County Commission's objections to the agreement were mainly threefold: the mixing of the water issue and the jail issue in the same agreement, the lack of an inflation rate included in the 10-year contract and the city not contributing enough money.

"I think it needs to be two separate agreements," McDaniel said after the meeting. "I think our amount that we're getting basically for detainees does not even come close to the actual expense."

Baca and Martin also said they wanted water and the jail to be looked at separately.

"I think the water is a viable issue that we need to address and the money could do good with that, but I do think like Miss Baca was saying they need to be separated, looked at separately if at all possible," Martin said.

During the meeting Baca said inflation must be considered over the life of the agreement.

"The idea that inflation is a dirty word, so what, so is taxes but it's a reality we have to live with," Baca said. "To have something for 10 years without taking into consideration any inflation, I think that's not appropriate, I don't think it's realistic."

The county's financial advisor, Rob Burpo, said the agreement should include changes to the pay structure based on inflation and brought up the idea of invoicing the city based on the number of detainees, rather than a blanket annual payment.

Thornton said that invoicing per detainee and the inclusion of inflation have caused issues previously.

"Invoicing the detainees on a daily basis did not work for us in the past," Thornton said. "That was a constant source of hassle and took up a lot of the manager's time, other personnel time with both entities. And the inflation adjustment is basically what kind of blew this thing up in the first place."

Thornton also addressed the changes to the payment structure.

"Is the $130,000 what we probably need to break even? No, but it is a number that, speaking with (Curry County Manager Lance) Pyle, it's a number that we can live with," Thornton said.

After the meeting Thornton said he does not know what's next for the agreement following the commission voting down the deal.

"We'll contact the city and see how they want to move forward from there," Thornton said.

Also at Tuesday's meeting:

• The commission unanimously approved the preliminary operating budget for fiscal year 2019. Pyle said the preliminary budget includes $41,100,824 in total expenses and the final budget will go back before the commission in July.

• The commission selected Martin and McDaniel to serve on the county's new water conservation committee.

Four members of the public — Kenneth Davis, Janelle Duffey, Hoyt Pattison and Rachel Armstrong — were also appointed to the committee that will be tasked with coming up with water conservation strategies for the county, though the committee will not be able to enact any restrictions or regulations.

• The commission unanimously approved the installation of security cameras at the Curry County Courthouse at a cost of around $47,000.

• The burn ban in unincorporated areas of the county that was set to expire on May 5 was extended for another 45 days.

 

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