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

Clovis tightens parameters on fee waivers


October 7, 2018

CLOVIS — The Clovis city commission gave itself a more stringent set of parameters Thursday night for those occasions when groups planning to use city facilities and services ask to have fees waived.

The commission, with just a few clarifications from Clovis City Manager Justin Howalt, unanimously passed its revenue review committee recommendations after about a 20-minute discussion at the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Commissioner Fidel Madrid raised objections in May to the way the commission had no real standard for waiving fees. He felt the commission should either eliminate fees or not exempt anybody, instead of a system in which fees are waived for requesters who just know they have to ask.

The item that drew the most discussion was when the city would waive ambulance standby fees for the Clovis Fire Department. The recommendation was to charge the fees if the event requires admission fees.

“It seems to be that fees would not be waived for events that charged admission” Mayor David Lansford said, “because you would have the ability to collect the cost of those through gate receipts.”

An exception was made for Clovis High School football games, Howalt said, because it was a request from another government entity.

A group that was not granted an exception was the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association. Jared Wilhite, president of the association, said the fees from the rodeo’s multi-day championships at the Curry County Events Center would stretch beyond $10,000 — fees he feared would prove difficult to pass on in ticket increases.

“We have 155 to 170 members, and their families,” Wilhite said. “It’s not a huge spectator sport, but the families are coming.”

Howalt and Clovis Fire Chief Mike Nolen noted there is no requirement for the Clovis Fire Department to handle standby duties. They mentioned Texico and Grady as being a cheaper alternative because Clovis’ fees are set by the state due to its certification level.

Additionally, the association doesn’t require an ambulance on standby, but instead an EMT with radio service present at the event.

“I talked to Doug Scioli, the fire chief at Texico,” Nolen said, “and there can be some kind of arrangement closer to $500. I can assure you Doug will work with you if a lesser rate is needed.”

Commissioners largely praised the revenue review committee, which met in August, and Commission Sandra Taylor-Sawyer did suggest one change. She would like the committee name changed to Revenue and Expense Committee, as an overarching reminder that services and facilities are taxpayer expenses.

Meetings watch

Highlights from the Clovis city commission meeting on Thursday:

• The commission approved $1.3 million to the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority to fund upcoming construction.

The money helps the authority retire debt service from some low-interest loans it has on the books, but mostly helps the authority get construction started before Nov. 7 so bid prices won’t increase.

The $1.3 million is in a fund that is set aside specifically for the water project, and the authority plans to pay the city the money back through a reduction in member fees over the next three years.

• Vincent Soule and Carolyn Spence were re-appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission, and John King was appointed to take over the seat left vacant with Connie Belcher’s departure.

Soule received seven votes, with Gary Elliott the lone holdout. Spence received six votes, with Fidel Madrid and Helen Casaus not voting for her. King drew votes from Ladona Clayton, Elliott, Madrid, Casaus and Chris Bryant.

Also running were John Sharp and Steve North. Sharp drew four votes — Juan Garza, Elliott, Sandra Taylor-Sawyer and Casaus. North drew two votes — Madrid and Rube Render.

• The commission approved an ordinance for an expansion at the Cummins Natural Gas Engines plant, which is owned by the Clovis Industrial Development Corp.

Chase Gentry, executive director of the CIDC, said Cummins had an opportunity to add generator manufacturing to its plant and create 10 more jobs on top of its current base of 38.

The project requires a new 22,500 square foot facility, with an overall commitment of $950,000 — $510,000 loaned from the CIDC to the economic development tax fun, $290,000 from an Economic Incentive Board grant and $150,000 from the state economic development department.

The new building, like the rest of the plant, will be leased to Cummins at a rate below market value.

• The commission approved a “wish list” of expenditures totaling $757,000. Expenditures included remediation of the Clovis Police Department firearms range, roof repair at the animal shelter, tree trimming at the zoo and Colonial Park Golf Course, software for senior services, plumbing upgrades at the airport, window treatments at the library, scheduling software for Clovis Area Transit System and various parking lot striping.

• The commission approved four recommendations from the lodger’s tax advisory board and reduced one request for a total of $19,500.

The requests came from the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce for visitor’s guide advertisements ($2,500), production of a city map ($4,000) and Pioneer Days promotion ($4,000); Clovis MainStreet for the Christmas Light Parade ($5,700) and Force of One for a mixed martial arts event in November ($3,000).

The Force of One request was originally recommended at $6,000, but Casaus argued it shouldn’t receive lodger’s tax dollars because the last event had a lower number of fighters than originally promised. Garza said other groups have received lodger’s tax dollars without penalty when something fell short of expectations on their events, and that it seemed to single out Force of One because scheduled fighters got injured before the event.

Taylor-Sawyer reminded commissioners they were not a rubber stamp for the advisory board, and were free to change or remove the award recommendation. Elliott felt it wasn’t fair to override the advisory board without having heard their justification.

Casaus withdrew her original motion, and replaced it with the $3,000 award. It was seconded by Garza and passed on a 7-1 vote. Elliott was the lone dissenting vote, based on his prior objection.


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