Communities enter into mutual aid agreement

By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers

The City of Portales and surrounding communities mapped out a system of accountability for donations pledged in support of “Operation Keep Cannon.” A mutual aid agreement was signed Friday by key entities and will be in place in a matter of days, officials said.
The agreement, drafted between the city of Clovis, the city of Portales, and Curry County, spells out avenues the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce must follow in order to draw upon the $450,000 in pledges earmarked to keep Cannon Air Force Base from being closed.
Roosevelt County is included in the plan, but has not as of yet donated money or entered into the agreement. County Administrator Charlene Hardin said that the agreement would be discussed 4 p.m. Thursday at the county courthouse, as that was the first time she could get a quorum together.
Cannon was one of two domestic Air Force bases recommended for closure May 13 by the Department of Defense.
The city of Clovis was named as the fiscal agent and will be primarily responsible for the release of funds to the Chamber of Commerce, which is working closely with the Committee of Fifty to present fund-use recommendations.
A joint finance committee will authorize payment of bills.
“In light of our resolution to give $100,000 in support of Cannon Air Force Base, we needed to look at the legal aspects so we were certain that the money would be spent in the best way possible. We aren’t just going to throw it into a big pot,” said County Manager Dick Smith, who underscored the need for the mutual aid agreement at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
“Together, it ($450,000) sounds like a lot of money but it goes very quickly and I just hope it’s enough.” Smith said.
The bulk of public money has been authorized for use in the employment of DLA Piper, an international law firm hired to lobby on the base’s behalf in Washington. Funds are also authorized for travel use. DLA Piper’s services were obtained at a $25,000 monthly retainer fee prior to the announcement of Cannon on the Department of Defense BRAC list for closure, according to Committee of Fifty member Randy Harris.
Making the case for Cannon, Harris said, involves the employment of various individuals and firms hired to complete an array of analytical and assessment tasks.
“Our needs change daily,” Harris said, “and certainly, nobody intends to raise more money than we need.”
Each entity, under the agreement, has a primary member and an alternate member on the joint finance committee who are allowed to make decisions on behalf of each entity. Portales’ primary member is City Manager Debi Lee, and City Councilman D.K. Shafer is the alternate.

PNT Managing Editor Kevin Wilson contributed to this report.