City seeks county help on improvements

By Argen Duncan: PNT Staff Writer

The Portales City Council is waiting to see if Roosevelt County will help pay for courthouse square improvements before awarding or rejecting the sole bid on the project.

The construction bid from K. Barnett & Sons Inc. of $719,000 was almost $178,000 more than the city’s available funds.

“The county can come up with the difference, or the city and county can share the difference,” City Manager Debra L. Lee said.

Otherwise, the city can reject that bid and call for more.

In response to a question from Mayor Orlando Ortega, Lee said the city could take out some items, but others were priorities. Ortega said planners couldn’t take out too much because the idea was to improve the area.

Lee said the two county commissioners she spoke to seemed supportive of helping pay, but didn’t commit.

“They feel strongly that the project is important and actually they’d rather get it done sooner rather than later,” she said.

City Attorney Steve Doerr said the city and county each pledged $60,000 to the project several years ago. If that money went to the shortfall, each entity would still need to provide almost $29,000 more to make up the remaining difference.

Lee also said the city has a contingency fund and a legislative fund they could use.

The city has until Nov. 20 to award or reject the bid. Councilors should know the county’s decision hours before their Nov. 18 meeting.

In another issue, Portales MainStreet Vice President Greg Erf said his organization is supporting improvements on 10 downtown buildings, working on a historicial walking tour of the area, hoping to install bike racks and a path along Fourth Street, and more.

In other business, the council granted an easement to allow a fence encroaching on a city right-of-way to remain as it is on North Avenue B.