County dumping decision worries city

By Christina Calloway
Senior writer
ccalloway@pntonline.com

The Roosevelt County Commission’s decision to stop paying for dumping services for county residents at the Portales Convenience Center has put city officials in a bind while they try to find a solution to offset the loss.
Portales Public Works Director John DeSha said the county pays anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 per year, which contributes to the city’s revenue, for use of the center.

He urged Portales city councilors to act quickly at their Tuesday meeting because the change will take effect on Sept. 1. The center allows city and county residents to dump trash (particularly large items not appropriate for the city trash receptacles), metal, furniture, trees, branches and other items.
“They kind of dropped it on us out of the blue,” DeSha said. “That represents a significant amount of money paid to the city.”
County officials have said the reason for the change is to make up for a shortfall in their budget due to an increase in expenditures caused by the replacement of the HVAC system at the Roosevelt County Courthouse, a $2.9 million project.

DeSha discussed several options to reduce the impact of the loss, including reducing the number of days the center is open, but said no matter what councilors choose, there will be consequences.
He said about 2,000 county residents use the center a month. He knows it won’t be popular if the city does not offer use of the center, but said county residents will likely be charged at a higher rate than what the city’s residents are charged.
Though DeSha suggested minimizing the days of operation to just the weekend, the option wasn’t met with a positive response.
“I’m not for closing it,” said Councilor Leo Lovett.

Lovett is concerned residents will end up dumping trash in the alleys and other places in the city because of the limited amount of days they can use the center.
“It’s going to wind up in our Dumpsters,” said Councilor Antonio Salguero.
Councilor Keith Thomas suggested a system be set up to charge county residents to use the center, but Lovett was concerned if county residents are billed, they may not ever pay it.

Ultimately, Portales Mayor Sharon King suggested councilors relay concerns to Councilor Matt Hunton, who chairs the Public Works Committee, so he can meet with his group and get back to the council on the committee’s suggestion.
“The reality is it’s (providing a place for the county to dump) not our responsibility, but we’re going to suffer the consequences,” King said.