Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, March 14, 2000
Council approves water deal with county
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, Mar. 14, 2000 - Town of Pecos City Council approved two agreements
this morning that will end the ongoing dispute between the city and county
over out-of-town water rates.
The agreements have not been presented to the commissioners' court,
but City Attorney Scott Johnson told the council that Reeves County Judge
Jimmy Galindo was ready to recommend the agreements to the commissioners.
During the specially called meeting, Johnson reviewed both documents,
point by point with the council.
The first document is a Water Distribution Agreement between the city
and the county that outlines future water dealings between the two entities.
The second document is a Settlement Agreement that puts an end to the ongoing
litigation between the city and the county.
Both documents are the result of the recent mediation, and the city's
experts have recommended the documents be signed, Johnson said.
"Our experts have looked at it, our Austin attorneys have, our rate
consultant has seen it, and their recommendation is to approve both documents,"
he said. "It is also my recommendation."
According to Mayor Dot Stafford, the dispute arose out of dealings between
the city and the county concerning a mistake in billing the county for
several years, and ongoing development of water resources.
The city is working toward developing a new water field at a projected
cost of about $8 million that will ensure Pecos has water for another 50
or more years. The city originally believed that the county would help
with this development cost, she said.
The city had also incorrectly billed the county for water usage outside
the city limits and had presented the county for a bill making up the difference.
That bill came close to $400,000, she said.
Eventually the county filed suit (Jan. 14, 2000) against the city and
the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission in regard to the water
dispute, Councilman Ricky Herrera said.
According to Herrera, the agreement will be good for the city and county.
"It's a fairly good deal. I think we've got a good agreement here. Hopefully
the county will approve it and we can all get on with other business,"
Herrera said. "Our main concern has always been keeping water costs down
for citizens and I think we've accomplished this."
Herrera said that key elements of the deal included the method for calculating
the county's water rate, the $400,000 bill for the mistaken billing, and
the city building a new water line out to Reeves County Detention Center,
which is run by the county outside the city limits.
Johnson explained that the county would be considered a commercial customer
for billing purposes, and that the method for calculating the county's
rate would be on a "cost-plus basis."
"The city is not supposed to make a profit on water," he said. "Normally,
rates are calculated by figuring the city's cost for water delivery, and
then the rate is figured from the cost."
Under the agreement, the city will figure cost, and then add $500,000
to that figure, to determine the county's rate.
"The rate will be a little higher this way," Johnson said.
The county has also agreed to pay the city $422,320 per year for ten
years as the city works to develop new water sources, he said.
Mayor Stafford said that the money will help offset the $8 million loan
the city is applying for to develop new water fields.
"By settling this we can now proceed with the loan application for the
$8 million dollars through the Texas Water Conservation Board. The loan
has been on hold because of the litigation," she explained.
Also, the city agreed to build a new, 16-inch water line out to the
Reeves County Detention Center at a cost of about $250,000.
Director of Public Works Octavio Garcia explained that the city would
do the actual construction, but that the county was providing the materials
for the project.
"This should take care of the prison's water supply needs in the future,"
he said. Construction is currently underway to double the capacity of the
detention center to 2,000 inmates later this year.
Red Bluff rejects hike in water rates
By JON FULBRIGHT
Commissioners approve latest RCDC paymentsRed Bluff Water Power Control
Board members didn't do anything about raising the price of water and were
told that - at least for now - they can't do anything about raising the
quality of it either.
The board voted to maintain water rates for the 2000 irrigation season
at $2.50 an acre/foot, even though the figure leaves the district with
a $132,000 deficit, general manager Jim Ed Miller said during their regular
monthly meeting on Monday in Pecos.
At the same time, Miller told the board about a new delay in the district's
Malaga Bend salt alleviation project, this one involving demands from Pecos
River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher.
Miller said the district must satisfy Thrasher on their plans to contract
with Loving Salt Co. to divert water from a salt spring away from the Pecos
River and into man-made holding ponds, from where salt would later be mined
after it evaporates.
"It's going to be what he wants us to do, because he has the upper hand
and can stall us as long as he wants to," said board president Randall
Hartman, who met with Miller and Thrasher earlier this month.
Miller read a letter from Thrasher to the board on the district's past
salt alleviation plan, which involved pumping water from the spring into
Anderson Lake. He said the letters statement that the lake was unlined
and the salt water leached back into the Pecos River was incorrect.
"The lake was lined, but it filled up past the line and did leach into
the river," he said, while Hartman added, "The lake didn't leak. It overflowed
because it exceeded its design limit."
In the letter Thrasher said he wanted to know if Red Bluff had measuring
system for salt content in the river above and below Malaga Bend, and a
plan to stop pumping from the spring if the project is ineffective.
Board member Lloyd Goodrich said the district has always been measuring
the salt content of the river every other month, while Miller said the
contract with Loving Salt calls for stopping pumping within a year's time
if the district decides to terminate the contract.
Goodrich and board member Dick Slack said the measuring gauges show
the salt content of the Pecos River increases from 25 to 33 percent due
to the Malaga Bend salt spring; a problem board members hope will be solved
if the Loving Salt deal is ever completed.
The other item Thrasher discussed in the letter was a demand by New
Mexico for Texas to give up 600 acre/feet in water rights per year before
any deal is signed.
Goodrich said the 600 acre/feet would be equal to the amount currently
entering the river from Malaga Bend, and the board generally agreed they
could live with New Mexico taking 600 acre/feet of brine water.
"If it would rush anything I would agree," said board member Charlotte
Wilcox, and members gave Miller the right to negotiate a deal with New
Miller also said he would be going to Austin to explain the board's
position to state officials, including John Howard, an assistant to Texas
Gov. George W. Bush, and Tom Bolt of the attorney general's office, who
serves as an advisor to Thrasher.
On the water rate, the board voted 4-2 in favor of keeping it at $2.50
an acre/foot. Hartman and board member Jay Lee voted against, while Slack
abstained, saying "We do need to take a look closely at it some time."
"I do think farmers would be willing to pay (higher prices) for water
if their crops were worth anything," said board member Manuel Lujan, while
Goodrich said the district has enough money in the bank to subsidize the
"If we've got a nickel left in the bank, we should cut the price of
water," he said. "We don't have enough people willing to risk farming on
the river now, so we need to keep it down to keep the people we have got.
It's a really risky business."
Miller said while the district has funds now, "By the time we pay the
final thing on the dam (the $700,000 Red Bluff Dam renovation project)
and Malaga Bend it will be depleted." He said the district should have
$200,000 left in the bank after paying for the Red Bluff project, which
is scheduled to be completed by next April.
The board also agreed to release 35,000 acre/feet of water to farmers
along the Pecos River this year. Miller said that would bring in $87,500
to the district this year, while operating expenses for 2000 were put at
Miller said a $1 per acre/foot increase would still leave the district
with a $100,000 shortfall. Hartman said water rates would have to rise
to about $7 an acre/foot for the district to break even, and while not
recommending that big a hike, said, "I think we should do little increases
over time instead of a one-time big increase. We ought to cover our basic
expenses with our water payment."
Board members also set Oct. 15 as the absolute final day for water release,
due to the Red Bluff project. Work on replacing and repairing the gates
on the 65-year-old dam is expected to take about 5½ months.
Commissioners approve latest RCDC payments
By ROSIE FLORES
Commissioners approve latest RCDC paymentsReeves County Commissioners
approved several payments to different companies in conjunction with construction
at the Reeves County Detention Center, during the afternoon session of
their regular meeting on Monday.
Commissioners approved Payment No. 11 to Banes General Contractors,
payment invoice number 165 to DRG Architects and a payment to Scott-Thane
"We can approve the corrected amount, have them do a spreadsheet and
sent it to the bonding company," said county auditor Lynn Owens.
Problems in the total amount had arisen when Owens noted that the architect
did not have the correct figures and amount owed to Banes.
"We discussed it during the break and came up with the correct amount,"
Owens got together with a representative from Banes and spoke to Lorraine
Dailey, architect on the phone to correct the mathematical problem.
A mechanical contract was awarded to Howard's Company, which is already
in Pecos doing work at the detention center, while additional work on locks
will be negotiated. Banes General Contractors told the court that they
will negotiate with the three companies about the locks and bring back
the results for the next commissioners court.
Lease of real property on County Road 204 was approved and a draft copy
of the lease agreement presented to the court.
"This is the draft that Lynn (Owens) had drafted a couple of weeks ago,"
said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "The only thing I would like
to add is the minimum lease amount of the project concrete and rate, and
set it at $9,300 annually."
Commissioners had approved leasing property to a concrete mix company
at an earlier meeting and approved the draft agreement at Monday's session.
They authorized the lease of real property at the stated minimum amount
of $9,300 or equivalent material value.
"This is open to everyone," said Galindo.
"We need the contract at the facility, (RCDC), because we have needs
that will involve a significant amount of concrete and at the recreation
department for the construction of the racquetball courts," said Galindo.
"As long as it's advertised and we give them an opportunity to bid it's
open to everyone," said Owens.
A request from Saragosa Catholic Church to use the county park for a
fundraiser was discussed briefly.
"I don't think there's an established use policy," said Galindo.
"I think it's similar to Maxey Park, where it's first come, first serve
basis," he said.
"I don't know if there's any problem, as long as it doesn't interfere
with other citizens," said Owens.
Commissioners tabled a decision of a contract with All Aboard America
Bus Lines and authorizing additional penalty on delinquent taxes under
section 2:33.08 tax code.
Approved during the afternoon session were budget amendments and line
item transfers, reports from various departments and bond and oath for
Mandy Hinojos, Connie Lozano and Catalina Lozoya.
Personnel and salary changes include at the Reeves County Detention
Center, Jaime Montano, Fernando Carrasco, Hilario Celaya III, Juan Gutierrez,
Monica Orona, Javier Rodriguez, Ramiro Guerra, Fred Woodruff, as Correctional
Officers I at an annual salary of $19,000; Jean Brookshire received a boost
at the facility to Health Services Trainee at $30,000 per yea and Pete
Ramos a boost to $24,000, as an LVN-CN. At the recreation department, Maria
Martinez, was hired as a laundry maintenance person at $6 per hour; at
the Juvenile Detention Center, Juan Abrigo, Eva Garcia, Partrice Mosser
and Virginia Caballero were hired for an after-school program as teachers
at $15 per hour with aides Sally Orona, Penny Terry, Lisa Rodriguez and
Miss Cazarez at $6 per hour.
AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers
drawn: 5-9-22-32-36. Number matching five of five: 0. Matching four of
five: 219. Prize: $872.
AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery,
in order: 6-0-8 (six, zero, eight)
PECOS, Mar. 14, 2000 - High Monday 73. Low this morning 43. Forecast for
tonight: Mostly cloudy. Low in the upper 40s. Southeast wind 5-15 mph.
Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. A less than 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms.
High in the upper 70s. South to southwest wind 5-15 mph. Wednesday night:
Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 40s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise