City council moving closer to ordinance

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

The Portales City Council inched closer Tuesday to passing an ordinance that would place restrictions on the sale of over-the-counter cold and sinus medicines believed to be used in methamphetamine production.

The council unanimously approved a motion to put the ordinance to vote. First the council must conduct a public hearing for the ordinance, which is being pushed by the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The hearing is scheduled for the council’s Aug. 16 meeting.

The Roosevelt County Commission already passed an intent for a meth ordinance in July.

City representatives and commissioners have said they would like to have the ordinance adopted by September.

The primary objective of the ordinance would be to restrict the sale of drugs containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient for making meth.

“I definitely support this ordinance cracking down on this terrible poison in our community,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega said.

The main provisions of the ordinance:
• Only applies to hard-pill and powder-form of the pseudoephedrine-based drugs
• Buyers will have to provide name, address and driver’s license number
• Affected forms of medicine will be placed behind the counter
• Maximum of three boxes per transaction

“I thank you for your support of the ordinance,” Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler told Ortega and city councilors on Tuesday. “Hopefully if the ordinance is passed, it will give our community a chance for a meth-free future.”

Other items discussed during the city meeting:
• Ortega requested Portales City Manager Debi Lee set up a meeting for the finance committee to discuss the city’s obligation for the Ute Water Project. The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority originally had 12 members, but since the start San Jon, Logan, Tucumcari and Quay County have dropped out.

ENMRWA officials are trying to get the federal government to pay for 80 percent of the project, leaving the state to pay 10 percent and the entities the other 10 percent. ENMRWA would have to come up with approximately $30 million of the $300 million-dollar project.

With 12 members, the financial responsibility for the city of Portales was $4.6 million and for Clovis was $11.6 million.

• Councilors approved to have Portales City Clerk Joann Martinez-Terry go into negotiations with the Safety Institute Inc. of Alamogordo for drug testing for its employees. The Safety Institute Inc. officials were the only ones which submitted a proposal to provide the services.

Martinez-Terry said the Safety Institute Inc. provided the service the last four years, but state regulations require the city go out for proposals after four years.

She said on an average the city has paid $3,000 for the services each year.