The $80,000 question: Whose is it?

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom New Mexico

Whose $80,000 is it anyway?

The city of Tucumcari says it is theirs.

Quay County says they asked for it first.

At stake is $80,000 appropriated to “Tucumcari in Quay County” during the last state legislative session, City Manager John Sutherland said.

Sutherland said the city asked for the money to pay for infrastructure. And when the city agreed several months ago to become the fiscal agent for the cash, it agreed the money would be used to plan, design, build and install infrastructure in Tucumcari in Quay County.

The city has checked with its project liaison at the state’s Department of Finance Administration, Sutherland said. And the city has been has been told in an e-mail the funds are identified as the city’s because the agreement states the money will be spent “in Tucumcari in Quay County.”

“Legally, they sent the money to us. We didn’t go up and take it,” Sutherland said.

In the city’s last request to the Legislature, it asked for about $14.15 million, Sutherland said.

Municipalities and other state entities routinely ask for more than they expect to receive. So, when Tucumcari received $80,000, the city believed it was the lesser amount from the Legislature, Sutherland said.

“We have not spent the money,” Sutherland said.

Franklin McCasland, chairman of the Quay County Commission, said the money in question was requested by the county to upgrade its security systems at the Quay County Detention Center.

“We had spoke with Rep. Brian Moore. The detention center needs new locks and other upgrades,” he said.

The city and county work jointly on a number of the projects, including central dispatch and housing prisoners for the city at its jail, and they should be able to resolve this issue, McCasland said. “I think it’s all going to be resolved. It’ll all work out.”

The $80,000 issue is expected to be on the agenda at the Tucumcari City Commission’s meeting Thursday, according to City Commissioner Jim Lafferty.