New tax fails to pass

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

Roosevelt County is no longer facing a new gross receipts tax.

The proposed sales tax of 6 cents on every $100 died for lack of a motion at the County Commission meeting Tuesday in the County Courthouse.

The tax would have helped fund indigent health care.

No members of the public spoke at the meeting. However, County Manager Charlene Hardin said a number of people had called to oppose the tax, citing the troubled economy.

Also at the meeting, County Treasurer Micki Williams said the county would have to repay to the state $8,300 the county lost from a state investment pool. Roosevelt County lost interest money in the pool after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed bankruptcy.

Williams said state law requires the payment. The state will get its cash each month by taking a portion of interest gained on remaining money in the fund.

“I don’t know yet how much that would be a month,” she said. “They’re still figuring.”

Commissioners discussed removing the county’s money from the state pool. They decided to schedule a workshop on investments before making a final decision.

Williams said if the county withdrew the money, it would have to pay the $8,300 in a lump sum, rather than monthly installments.

Financial adviser Rob Burpo of First American Financial advised against taking all of the county’s $3 million out of the state pool now.

“I don’t see any advantage in it,” he said.

Burpo recommended leaving $1 million the county had in segregated accounts in the state pool. He suggested starting by removing the other $2 million.

In another matter, the commission agreed to accept responsibility for providing $2,000 to pay on-call nurses with the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program. The commission passed the motion unanimously, with Commissioners David Sanders and Jake Lopez absent.

“Two thousand dollars is a minimal impact to your budget,” Hardin told the commission before the vote.

Roosevelt General Hospital has been providing the money, but SANE Director Amber Hamilton asked the county to help.

The nurse examiners are paid $2 an hour when they’re on call 24 hours a day. During that time, Hamilton said, they must be able to respond within 30 minutes to an hour.

In other business, the commission:

• Passed a resolution asking to separate responsibility for maintenance of several roads currently under joint maintenance between the county and City of Portales. The resolution now goes to the city.

• Accepted a New Mexico Public Regulations Commission statewide tariff. This allows Milnesand and Arch to institute billing for ambulance transport services.

• Heard Capt. Rick Short of the sheriff’s office report that deputies filed 91 incident reports in January. He said in his 20 years with the office, he had never seen so many incident reports filed in a month.

• Heard County Dentention Center Administrator Don Burdine announce a new perimeter fence is finished and will increase security at the jail.