Stipulation in bill could cost county $100,000

By Mike Linn

A minor stipulation in a bill that unanimously cleared the legislative process may cost Roosevelt County a hardy chunk of cash.
House Bill 229, drafted to increase cash allocations to small counties in the state, requires that counties with a property value over $200 million must have three general gross receipts taxes in place by July 1 to receive money from the state.
A 1/8 tax increment is not in place in Roosevelt County, which has a property value of $204 million; consequently the county doesn’t qualify for $100,000 of small-county assistance money from the state.
County commissioners said on Tuesday at their bimonthly meeting they will ask area representatives to fix the glitch during the Legislature’s special session in October.
“When they signed off on this bill nobody caught it … somebody was supposed to catch this on Roosevelt County’s behalf … they didn’t notice this little additional amendment,” commissioner Dennis Lopez said.
Even so, commissioners felt confident they would get the money following the special session. So confident they decided to budget a line item for the missing funds.
Commissioner Tom Clark said he would write senators and the governor. Even the pope, he joked.
In other news at the commission meeting:
•Following a 90-minute executive session, the commission unanimously decided to not pay the city of Portales expenses tallied from old ambulance bills.
The bills, in excess of $32,000 tallied from ambulance calls to the Roosevelt County Detention Center almost eight years ago, had either been misplaced or hidden since then, and are now being presented for payment.
“They were old ambulance bills that we don’t think we can justify paying at this time,” Commissioner Tom Clark said Tuesday night.
“The way I understood it is that those bills were being given to the sheriff’s secretary or somebody and she was just rat-holing them, putting them up and never presenting them to the county,” Clark said.
Evidently there may have been a verbal agreement in the past regarding the expenses, but nobody is sure, county administrator Charlene Hardin said.
Portales City Manager Gerry Depo claimed that even though the invoices are old, they are debts that should be paid.
“It was a service from the city for payment, and we would expect anybody to pay for services we render, whether they be citizens of Portales or the county,” Depo said.
•Commissioners voted 4-1 to enter into a joint powers agreement with Eastern New Mexico Water Authority to protect future and existing water rights in the region. The water allocated to Roosevelt County is 100 acre feet. Eleven other entities make up the authority, including the cities of Portales and Clovis, and the counties of Curry and Quay.