Distribution of road money sparks county contention

By Tony Parra

A dispute arose during Tuesday’s county meeting over the issue of how much money should go to each district for road repairs.

An issue that Tom Clark, county commissioner, said he was willing to take to court in the form of a lawsuit. The issue at hand is just how much money each district is entitled to.
Clark believes the citizens of district 3 are unfairly losing money to that district because of changes to the amount of funds each district receives. Roosevelt County

Commissioners receive money from the state of New Mexico for road repairs. Last year commissioners approved changes to road-funding system so that Districts 2, 3, 4, and 5 would receive 25 percent of road funds each.

Dennis Lopez, represents District 1, located in the city of Portales. It is a district where city representatives spend money repairing roads and he agreed to not receive a portion of those funds.

The amendment to the road funding structure passed in late December of 2004 with three votes for the amendment Chad Davis; Gene Creighton, District 4; Lopez, District 1) and two votes against (Clark, District 3; Paul Grider, District 5).

Clark said Robert’s Rules of Order, guidelines for parliamentary procedure, were not followed during the vote, which he said makes the changes null and void.

“Commissioner (Dennis) Lopez was allowed to change the road policy handbook without it being on the agenda,” Clark said. “He could not bring it before the commission because of Robert’s Rules of Order. I expect money to be put back (into District 3).”

Gene Creighton, Roosevelt County chairman, disputes that all along the county has followed the Robert’s Rules of Order loosely.

“I think you’re going to have to get an attorney and go to court,” Creighton said.

Clark also contended that since Davis voted against the road policy previously in July, he could not bring up the amendment per Robert’s Rules of Order. Clark said Lopez, the chairman at the time, had made a mistake by not following the rules of order correctly.

“I would wait on advice from the county administrator and legal advice, he’s (Clark) not an attorney,” Lopez said.
“No, but I can read Robert’s Rules of Order,” Clark replied, to which Lopez responded by saying, “More power to you.”
Clark also asked commissioner Grider how he would vote since Clark said Grider stood to lose some money for the district based on the 25-percent set-up. During Grider’s reply, Clark understood if the issue came up for vote on an agenda, Grider would vote on the 25-percent set-up this time.

“I didn’t say what my position was, so don’t tell me,” Grider said. “I appreciate you not putting words in my mouth.”
Davis, at the time he made the amendment, said District 2 receives 12 percent of road money but 53 percent of the property tax revenue comes from District 2. District 2 was receiving 12 percent ($25,290) of the road money and District 3 received 33 percent ($69,692) at the time.

Clark argued the road-funding policy should be based on the amount of miles in each district: District 2, 154.4 miles; District 3, 427.4 miles; District 4, 308.7 miles; District 5, 394.6 miles.

• During the county meeting, it was also discovered that the contract for county attorney services was not renewed in July. Randy Knudson, attorney, left after five minutes into the meeting.

Charlene Hardin, county administrator, apologized for the oversight on expiration of the contract. The commission could have voted to renew Knudson’s contract for another year before it expired. He has completed two years with the county.

However, now Hardin said request for proposals will go out for attorney services. She said hiring an attorney for the county could take place in late November or early December at the earliest.

Hardin said she will work on having someone work as a county attorney on a month-to-month basis in the meantime.