Mayor expresses concerns on pipeline project costs

By Thomas Garcia: PNT Staff Writer

Concerns about financial responsibility and debt incurred with funding for the Ute Pipe Line dominated discussion Tuesday at Portales City Hall.

During the regular meeting Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. expressed his concerns about committing money on loans on a project not yet federally funded.

“This project began with a cost of $250 million six years ago and has grown to over $400 million,” Ortega said. “The longer the project is on wait the higher the cost will be.”

If the pipeline is not federally backed then future spending towards support of that project should be on hold, Ortega said.

“The council supports the project,” said Portales City Manager Debi Lee. “But there must be responsibility and accountability to the spending associated with the project.”

“I don’t think that a community needs to go bankrupt to support a project,” Ortega said.

Ortega said he will present the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority with a letter he has composed addressing the concerns that he spoke about at Tuesday’s meeting during today’s meeting in Texico.

The topic of funding came after the council approved $3 million in water related issues.

A $2 million loan from the New Mexico Environment Department Construction Programs Bureau was approved for improvements on the Portales water distribution system.