State officials listen to local concerns for capital outlay

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Senators and representatives are seeing an increase in money requests from cities and counties they serve and on Thursday they listened to what Portales city officials wanted.
Mayor Orlando Ortega informed Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, Rep. Joe Campos, D-Santa Rosa and Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell about the priorities the city has set totaling $6.7 million. Portales city officials requested a little more than $1 million last year.

City representatives are asking for $3.5 million in street improvements, street reconstruction, curb and gutter and sidewalks. Tom Howell, public works director, said there are various streets in the city targeted for renovation.
Asked whether the $6.7 million was a little unrealistic, Ingle said not necessarily.

“We’ve got over $1 billion of revenue from oil, gas and the mining industry,” Ingle said. “They (requests) are more realistic than some of the other requests I’ve been getting. Some communities are asking for $15 and $20 million. It’s awful tempting when there’s over $1 billion.”

Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, estimated the 2006-2007 legislative budget is $1.2 billion more than in previous years due to gas and oil tax revenue, according to a Clovis News Journal story.

Gardner said he had scheduled stops in Dora, Elida and Causey on Thursday. He said they were in Lovington and other Lea County communities on Wednesday.

“There are similar requests from the communities — infrastructure,” Gardner said. “Buildings and equipment getting old.”

Gardner said city and county representatives are including the rise in construction materials in their estimations so they don’t get left short on funds when completing projects.
“We know you’ll do everything you can to help us,” Ortega said.

The Portales city officials are asking for $415,000 for building improvements to repair leaky roofs at the Memorial Building, Portales Public Library, fire station and city hall buildings.

They are also asking for $190,000 to expand and renovate the animal shelter. Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill said the funding needed to renovate the animal shelter has been requested for the last 12 years but the city has not received any money for it.

“We need to renovate the building,” Gill said. “We take several animals twice a week to be uthanized in Clovis. Part of our plan is to add rooms to be able to do that.”

City representatives said they do not have the capacity at the current shelter to manage an average of 1,260 dogs and 420 cats a year. Gill said when the shelter was built in 1986 it wasn’t equipped to handle cats.

The city representatives also have a 1971 sewer rodder truck and 1983 and 1971 garbage trucks which are old and in need of replacement. They are requesting $600,000 for new trucks to replace them.

Howell said workers drive to Clovis two to three times a day to take trash to the landfill. He said on an average 34 tons of garbage is hauled to Clovis a day.

Ortega said another pressing issue for the city is the public swimming pool. He said the residents of Portales get a lot of use out of it. They want to renovate the swimming pool to maintain health and safety standards. On an average there are 200 people a day who use the swimming pool during the summer.