Freedom New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico entities sent capital outlay priorities Monday at the request of local legislators.
But there’s no indication there will be capital outlay available, or that every entity received that information.
“We got word from Santa Fe that if we had any projects, we needed to submit them before 5 p.m. yesterday,” Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said. “We submitted three projects to be on the safe side.”
Pyle submitted requests for Curry County roads, the Curry County Adult Detention Center and the Curry County Courthouse.
State Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, said she sent word to many entities, but said it was done on a “just in case” basis. She’s pessimistic that any capital outlay would be available, let alone enough to divide between all of the 100-plus legislators and still make an impact.
“We just never know for sure,” Kernan said. “We don’t believe there’s going to be anything significant. If there is some opportunity, there will most likely be some statewide projects.”
Capital outlay is a portion of the state budget devoted to the planning and financing of construction, renovation, remodeling, repair, and maintenance of facilities and capital assets for cities, counties and schools. If capital outlay money is available, it is first given to water projects, schools and Native American lands, then the remainder is divided among legislators.
Claire Burroughes, Clovis’ legislative director, said the city heard about the project request from the Clovis and Curry County Chamber of Commerce. She said general road and median improvement was suggested to the Legislature as a second project.
“The Ute Pipeline Project was our No. 1 project,” Burroughes said, “and has been our No. 1 project for many years.”
Several roads need repair, Burroughes said, and the way the city requested the money would allow them to work on any street.
No one in Roosevelt County reported receiving such a message, and few entities submitted capital outlay requests to the Legislature, under inferences from local legislators that capital outlay wouldn’t be available.
Nicole Thornton, Portales’ community affairs coordinator, said priorities were approved by the city council and sent before the session began.
“Even if they tell us there’s no money, we submit anyway,” said City of Portales Community Affairs Coordinator Nicole Thornton.
She said the city requested $180,000 for an aerial ladder truck for the Fire Department, $550,000 for city-wide street drainage improvements, $700,000 for planning, design and construction of a new wastewater facility, $110,000 to replace water lines, valves and fire hydrants and $250,000 to improve city buildings.
At Eastern New Mexico University, President Steven Gamble said employees had submitted capital outlay requests for severance tax bond money, but not regular capital outlay money.
The severance tax comes from oil and gas revenues and a tax on oil and gas producers, he said, and the money is used to take out a bond.
Gamble said the university wasn’t expecting any traditional outlay money, and most of the severance tax money would probably go to the Department of Transportation to maintain highways.
“We’re not optimistic that anything will be funded, but we do think it’s our responsibility to have a project ready for consideration if an opportunity presents itself within the severance bond,” he said.
Vice President of Business Affairs Scott Smart said the university was requesting $1 million to re-roof the Greyhound Arena sports complex, $500,000 to resurface South Avenue N, $100,000 for a new fire alarm system in the College of Business building and $100,000 to resurface the Golden Library parking lot.
Gamble said the university always applies for severance tax bond money, and no one has either encouraged or discouraged the application.
Roosevelt County Manager Charlene Hardin and Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler both said they weren’t planning to submit capital outlay requests and hadn’t been told money would be available.
Elida Town Clerk Sandra Monks and Dora Village Clerk Becky Fraze also said they weren’t submitting requests because there was no money.
Jelayne Curtis of Clovis Municipal Schools said she was not aware of any such message being sent by legislators.
Tom Drake, assistant to the president for business and government affairs at CCC, said that the college didn’t submit any requests because of the state of the economy. Drake and Executive Vice President Becky Rowley said that the college is focusing on building the second phase of the Joe and Charlyne Sisler Allied Health project.
“We would like to renovate the space that the Allied Health programs will vacate but we aren’t counting on doing that any time soon,” Rowley said.