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

Transit system fare increase approved


March 10, 2019

Jamie Cushman

Students from Portales High School were recognized by the Portales City Council and Mayor Ron Jackson for their assistance with the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

PORTALES - Starting July 1, Portales Area Transit is set to receive what officials said would be the public transportation program's first fare increase in its dozen years of operations.

That's after city approval of a 25-cent-per-ride bump during Tuesday's Portales City Council meeting.

The proposal passed by a 6-1 vote, with Councilor Chadrick Heflin casting the lone vote in opposition.

After the meeting Heflin said as a fiscal conservative he does not believe in raising taxes for citizens even for such a small amount and he did not believe the city needed the extra money to operate the program.

Starting July 1, the per-ride cost will increase from 75 cents to $1, while a 10 pack of passes will increase from $5 to $7.50.

Public Works Director John DeSha said PAT riders were not asked if an increase might cause hardship for them. But he hopes it won't create any.

"It's still a very economical way to get around town," he said.

DeSha said the program provided 12,463 rides last year.

The city took over operations of the PAT program from the Community Services Center in 2005.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Miller was absent.

Also at Tuesday's meeting:

• No action was taken following an approximately 20-minute executive session held to discuss personnel matters, according to the agenda.

• The council approved an agreement with the Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation to split the costs for a feasibility study related to the council's decision to turn the Rec Center into an entertainment venue.

The council approved the venue change last July, but City Manager Sammy Standefer said the city has since determined that a study is needed to show investors the feasibility of such a project.

"Long-term it's important not just for the investors but for us because we hate to see a business open and close as well. That's damaging to the community," said Councilor Jessica Smith.

Councilor Dianne Parker said a study is important to figure out what kind of entertainment venue could benefit the most people.

"I think when we open something of that magnitude, I think we want to make sure we hit as many people as we can. We don't want to bring something grand and huge and big and it just hits a small portion of our community, not only for the young and the youth and the older, but for families and everything," Parker said.

The cost of the feasibility study is not to exceed $7,500, according to the approved agreement.

• The council approved the city's fiscal year 2017-18 audit.

CPA Dahlia Garcia said the city received an unmodified opinion and the audit had no findings.

• The council approved the city's annual application to the Department of Transportation to receive local government road funds.

The application to complete the 18th Street improvement project from South Avenue I to New Mexico Drive was estimated to cost just shy of $215,00, with a local match of $53,615.69.

• During the public comment portion at the end of the meeting, Portales resident Rhonda Davis requested that the council consider a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution like the Roosevelt County Commission approved last month.

Roosevelt County commissioners passed a non legally binding resolution last month in response to several bills before the Legislature that would increase restrictions on transferring guns to another person and sales at gun shows, among other firearms proposals.

The council took no action.


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