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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

County hopeful RCDC’s bonds improve ratings

Staff Writer

Reeves County officials are awaiting word from the county’s bond rating service before proceeding with a financial restructuring plan for the Reeves County Detention Center.

Commissioners approved several payments on the leases for the RCDC during their regular meeting held recently at the courthouse.

Commissioners approved the 1999 bond lease payment in the amount of $420,996. “I’m going to hold the payments until the 29th and hopefully we’ll get everything resolved by then,” said Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said the county pays $11 million a year in lease payments on the three-unit RCDC. The 3,140-bed prison was built in three stages over the past 19 years, and has a total value of $89 million.

Originally, Galindo said the lease payment was scheduled to go up $2 million a year in 2005, bringing the annual payments up to $13 million. The certificates of participation were to be retired in 10 years, but Reeves County officials want to extend that by five years.

“The traditional term for these type of structures is 20 to 30 years,” said Galindo. “Reeves County has been very aggressive in structuring its lease payments, thereby fulfilling the certificates of participation over a very short period of time,” he said. If the payments can be structured to a lower level now, it will help the county be more competitive as far as the per-day payment rate for each inmate, in comparison to other facilities that house federal prisoners, according to Galindo.

Other payments approved included: the 1999 maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166; the 2001 bond lease payment in the amount of $589,392 and the 2001 maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166.

“The same stipulation applies to these other payments,” said Owens. “If our refinancing does not go through by the end of the month,” he said.

“What is the status of the refinancing?” asked commissioner precinct 1 Roy Alvarado during the commissioners’ January 24 meeting.

“What we’re waiting for is for Standard and Poors to release their report,” said Galindo. Galindo said that the bonds had been insured. “Both sets of investors approved the refinancing and all we’re just waiting for is for Standard and Poors,” he said. “It looks good.”

Standard and Poors is currently working on an investment rating for the county that Galindo said should come out in the next 10 to 15 days. That will determine how much collateral is needed for the investment by the bond insurers.

The higher a bond is rated, by agencies such as Standard and Poors, the easier it is to sell to investors. Bonds that are lower rated usually have to pay higher interest rates in order to attract investors, due to the higher risk factor a lower rating implies.

Galindo said that he had been in meetings in Dallas last week with officials who were involved in the initial issuance of the prison construction bonds.

“Last time I talked to (Carlyle Capitol Markets President Barry) Friedman, he thought it looked good, but we can’t guarantee that until it goes through,” said Owens.

Council scheduled to vote on revised ambulance pact

Pecos City Council members will discuss the counter-proposal offered by the Reeves County Hospital District on the new ambulance service contract, during the council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, beginning at 7 a.m. in council chambers at City Hall.

City Manager Joseph Torres said last Thursday that the council would be presented with the offer made by the hospital district on Jan. 25, in response to the city’s original three-year offer. The city’s plan called for boosting the hospital district’s payment for supporting the local ambulance service from a $40,000 base with a $5,000 cap, to a first year agreement of $60,000 base payment by the hospital, and a $15,000 cap on any cost overruns for the service.

The city’s proposal would have increased the payment to $65,000 in the second year and $70,000 in the third year, but after discussing the matter with RCH officials, the hospital board voted to make a counter-offer for 2005 alone, with a base payment of $60,000 and a $10,000 cap. The city and hospital have operated without a contract for the past two years for funding the ambulance service, with the hospital district paying the city based on the previous contract.

The ambulance contract is one of several items up for discussion on Thursday, including an executive session to conduct an employee review of Torres, who began working as city manager a year ago.

The council will also discuss the status of the rifle range south of the Reeves County Golf Course, and the use of the range by the Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club. They will also consider the leasing of real property for the Pecos Police Department’s shooting range from Roy Lindsey.

A proposed youth concert at Maxey Park on March 12 will also be discussed by the council, and will consider closing Cothrun Street from Kerr Street to the Interstate 20 access road (Palmer Street).

Other items include discussion of a tax abatement for the Pecos Historical District, which covers the city’s downtown area and is part of the new Main Street program; discuss/consider a venue tax project; discuss/consider appointments to the zoning and planning board, and to the plumbing board.

Council members will also hear public comments, approve the accounts payable report and approve the minutes of their previous meeting.

Acosta, Levario announce wedding plans

David and Ester Acosta, of Pecos, announce the engagement and approaching marriage of their daughter, Christina Candia Acosta to David Florez Levario.

The groom to be is the son of Randy and Emma Lozano of Pecos. He is currently employed by the Odessa Detention Center.

The future bride is currently by the Odessa College Children’s Center.

The couple plan to wed at 2 p.m., February 12, at Saragosa Hall.

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