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

Public outrage inspires Clovis to get creative


November 10, 2019

Of course you can fight City Hall.

Clovis residents proved last week you can even win, sometimes.

OK, let’s call it a moral victory.

City commissioners, no doubt alarmed at the community outrage over another tax increase, came up with a plan that’s not quite so painful as the original.

They still approved the tax hike to fund the development of the interim groundwater portion of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System. But only if the state and federal governments put their “skin in the game” too, meaning they produce a combined $70 million by March 31, 2022.

If the state and feds don’t come through, the proposed city tax covering about $15 million of the water authority’s $20 million share of the project won’t be implemented.

The skeptical among us suspect that means the tax hike won’t happen as proposed.

Think about it.

The state has promised to put $30 million toward the project; the feds have promised $40 million.

According to New Mexico Water Utility Authority Executive Director Orlando Ortega, they are legally bound to provide the money. They’re just not legally tied to a deadline to provide that funding.

And even if a bunch of Democrats in New Mexico agreed to cough up the full amount by 2022, do you think a bunch of Republicans would feel the need to fulfill that promise should they be in charge by then?

Same thing on the federal side: Even if the Trump administration agrees, does it seem likely a Democratic regime would follow those wishes?

City leaders are dreaming the Dems in Santa Fe and Republicans in Washington agree to give us the money and both retain power long enough to make it happen. And then we get the long-awaited pipeline, and local taxpayers will be on the hook for the property tax hike — about $50 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

As stated in previous opinion pieces, it’s a good idea to make plans for future water supplies. The city just needs to prioritize spending; it already has enough of our money to fund what’s important.

City government — all government for that matter — at some point has to stop increasing taxes every time it decides it wants to “help” us with our needs. That’s because big government defines “need” as everything from water and roads to golf courses.

The creative plan city officials came up with Thursday night involves an actual need. And the money won’t be collected, or spent, unless all of our Big Brothers are on the same page.

We’ll count that as a victory.

— David Stevens



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