Councilors accept housing money

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

Portales city councilors gave quick approval to a grant agreement that officials hope to use for a project that will construct affordable housing downtown.

The $250,000 grant agreement comes from state severance tax bonds that were approved in the 2007 Legislature. Another $200,000 was approved in this year’s Legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. Today is the deadline for bills passed at the end of the session to be signed or they pass into law automatically.

“The city would obtain real estate to do a project on,” said City Attorney Steven Doerr, who also serves on the Portales MainStreet board. “The state would need to sign off (after the project is planned.)”

Doerr said MainStreet officials, along with Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr., lobbied the governor for $1.2 million for affordable housing. Doerr said he doubts that full request will be honored. He said he is hopeful there will be $450,000 in state money for the project.

Doerr said no property or real estate had been obtained yet for the project and formal planning would begin later this year after that had happened.

Councilor Jake Lopez asked General Services Director Mike Parkey about the results of a city surplus auction, which was held online for the first time this year. Lopez said he was concerned that local people without computer access might not have had a chance to bid on items.

“I think we made more money than we ever have,” Parkey said. “And it was a lot easier on me.”

Parkey said in the past it has taken three men a day-and-a-half to move items to one location and get them ready for an on-site auction. With the online auction, he prepared everything himself in about a half hour on the computer.

Parkey said he would check into setting up a place such as the library where local people can bid online in the future. He said there was a possibility to even have assistance available for people wanting to make a bid.

In other business councilors:

• Heard an annual report from Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce officials. RCCC Executive Director Sharon King told councilors that of the events sponsored by the chamber for which economic impact could be tracked, approximately $106,000 was generated.

• Approved an easement agreement for Manuel and Rachel Ramos for property at 1017 S. Main for an encroachment onto city right-of-way.

• Approved a contract agreement with WHPacific to provide airport engineering services.