City council approves pay raises

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

The Portales city councilors approved pay increases for city personnel during Tuesday’s city meeting, which for some city employees will be reflected in their next paycheck.
City councilors approved the increase of the salary of the municipal judge from $15,500 a year to $20,000 a year effective on March 8.

The pay increase will coincide with the first day of the new judge or the next term for current municipal judge Fred Arnold. The election for the position will take place on March 7. The Portales Finance Committee members recommended the increase and councilors approved the recommendation.

City councilors also approved a 3 percent increase for the cost of living for city personnel. The pay increase will be in effect for the next six months of the fiscal year which concludes on June 30. The 3 percent increase means an additional $75,331 for the employees.

City councilor Mike Miller complemented the administrative employees for their work on the budget so that the cost of living increase doesn’t cost additional money over the estimated budget.

Debi Lee, Portales city manager, said there have been vacant spots which have allowed city officials to use that money for the increase without going over the estimated budget.

In other news at the meeting:
• Marsha Gilliland, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) executive director, requested the City of Portales representatives consider a partnership in opening a local CASA office in Portales.

Gilliland said there are 25 children in state custody from Roosevelt County and parents have to drive to Clovis to make supervised visitations and court-ordered classes.
Gilliland wanted to know if they could help with office space from one of the city buildings and utilities. Ortega advised Gilliland can get together with Lee to see what options there might be.

“You have a great program,” Ortega said. “I like the idea of presence in our community. It’s hard for people to have to drive to Clovis.”

Gilliland said there were 14 new cases in 2005.

• City councilors approved public works director Tom Howell’s recommendation to award the bid for wastewater lagoon sludge removal to WBI Inc. of Humble, Texas. It will cost $67,000 for removal of the first 120 cubic yards of sludge and $96.75 for each additional yard. Cost of the work is not to exceed the $233,000 from the city’s enterprise fund, which is composed of revenue from such things as water and waste management funds.

Howell said WBI Inc. sludge removal workers are currently doing work in Missouri and will start the work in six weeks.
Howell said he wants to set aside money from the enterprise fund from the next budget to completely remove the sludge from the wastewater lagoon.

• Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega recognized the Daughters of Confederacy chapter from Portales during the city meeting. He gave them a certificate of recognition appreciating the history of the Daughters of Confederacy group which dates back to Jan. 06, 1906 when Ellen Jones invited the women of Portales who were eligible for membership to meet in her home for the purpose of organizing a chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.