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Archive 2003

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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

School district's funds OK, but future shortfall possible

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 18, 2003 -- While other school districts are panicking over the financial  situation in Texas, the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will be "alright" for the next  two years.

"We're doing OK right now and will be OK for the next two years, we have money in the bank," said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love. "Cookie (Canon, P-B-T's finance director) does an excellent job and everyone else is really helping out."

Several representatives from West Texas school districts were in Austin on Monday, seeking additional financial help from the Texas Legislature due to budget shortfalls, while some West Texas districts have been forced to cut staff and school activities due to budget problems.

Love said that the Kermit ISD was forced to cut their budget by $1.7 million (17 percent) this year in order to avoid financial bankruptcy. They cut 19 positions and reduced spending up to 20 percent in many areas in order to survive financially.

"We're lucky that we haven't cut any positions and have done everything through attrition," said Love. "And if we close the two campuses we can save more money."

School board members are currently discussing the closing of the sixth grade campus at Zavala Elementary and the AEP campus at Lamar, and moving students from those sites to the Bessie Haynes and Pecos High School campuses.

Love said that even though the district is in good financial shape for the next two years, he said that they were still being cautious and worrying about the school year 2003-2004.

"I heard they were $1.9 billion short to make this budget and $10 billion for 2003-2004. "I asked TEA about the 98 percent, but we drew 96.8 percent."

Love said that with a loss in the top 98 percentile in attendance the state steps in and helps those schools out. "They had $11 million (for fiscal years 2001-02 and 2002-03), to help out the school districts, but we didn't get to the 98 percent, we had 96.8 percent."

"There are two things that really worry me," said Love. "The 98 percent and the four percent loss in values," he said.

"They under-fund so many things, just like the 98 percent is underfunded," he said.

Love said that P-B-T had 506 million in valuations last year, but dropped to $460 million in values for the 2002-03 school year. "When you look at that, it's down quite a bit," he said.

Love said that right now the district has money in the bank, but that they were facing a $1.3 million deficit in 2003-2004. "Of course those numbers can change," he said.

Love said that the biggest problem is in the loss of students. "Since I've been superintendent, we have lost 600 kids, that's in five years."

Love said that the district was down 332 students the year before and 230 this year.

"When you multiply 232 times $5,000, that is $1.16 (million)," said Love. "That really hurts us, our population needs to stabilize."

"We've got some money saved up, but other school districts don't," he said.

Love said that there are some school districts that are charging students to be in athletics. "They're charging some students $250 to be in sports and Highland Park, I talked to their principal and they're charging $50," he said.

Love said that the Robin Hood plan was not only affecting Chapter 40 schools, which include the P-B-T ISD district, but also the Chapter 41 districts, the wealthier districts. That includes area school districts such as Wink-Loving, Kermit, Monahans-Wickett-Pyote and Andrews ISD.

"We drew 56.7 percent from the state of Texas and now are drawing 48.3 percent, that's 18.27 percent less," said Love. "We've lost over 600 kids in the last five years and that's really hurting us."

"We're not going to get it all, all the funding from the state, because of the 98 percent attendance rule and the valuations being down," he said.

Love said that it was the loss of students that was the major problem.

"There's a lot of things that TEA says they're going to do and then they don't provide enough money to do it," he said.

Love said that he would have more figures at the end of the current six weeks grading period, which would be Feb. 21.

Holiday sales show small dip despite rate jump

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 18, 2003 -- Christmas season sales in Pecos weren't as bad as could be  expected given the area's current unemployment rate, according to figures  releases this past Friday by the State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's office.

The closing of the Anchor Foods plant in Pecos at the end of May put more than 600 people out of work, and caused the city's jobless rate to climb to over 20 percent during the summer. Unemployment rates were down in Pecos by the end of December, but were still double the level of a year ago.

However, February's sales tax rebate check for the city, based on sales made during the Christmas shopping season in December, showed only a three percent drop in tax receipts compared with a year ago. Pecos got $86,863 back from the comptroller's office, based on its 1½-cent share of the state's 8¼-cent sales tax, which was down 3.23 percent from the $89,763 the city got back a year ago.

One sixth of that amount, or $14,477, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp.

Balmorhea and Toyah also saw their sales tax check drop this month, while tax rebate check for the Reeves County Hospital District was up from a year ago. Balmorhea's check for $1,413 was down 15.69 percent from the $1,676 it got back in February of 2002, while Toyah received a $436 check, down 3.2 percent from the $451 it got a year ago from its 1½-cent sales tax.

The hospital district's ½-cent sales tax earned it a check for $37,211, up by 3.34% from the $36,005 it got a year ago from Strayhorn's office.

Across the Permian Basin, sales tax rebate totals were up slightly overall, but only a few cities reported large increases.

Midland had the area's largest single check, for $2.47 million, which was up 19½ percent from last year, while Andrews' check for $98,142 was up 14.4 percent. Fort Stockton received a tax rebate check for $130,890, which was up 21.94 percent from last year, but that was due to a 25 percent increase in the city's sales tax during that same period.

Marfa had the single largest increase, jumping 68¾ percent, while Odessa, Monahans and Van Horn showed slight increases in their rebate checks. Other cities besides Pecos to show slight declines were Alpine, Big Spring and Presidio; with Kermit and Wink reporting the largest tax rebate check drops, of 21¼ and 52¾ percent respectively.

Pecos' drop in sales tax receipts mirrored the overall numbers for Texas cities and counties. The comptroller said a total of $302.4 million was sent out this month, which is 3.5 percent lower than a year ago. Houston had the single largest check, for $36.7 million, which was down nearly 11 percent from February 2002, while Dallas' check for $21.4 million was down 5.58 percent from a year ago.

Parents, police seek site for skateboard park

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 18, 2003 -- After receiving the support of over 400 parents and children, a  concerned parent and the Pecos Police Department Community Officer are now  looking for a safe location for children to skate.

According to Becky Millan and Pecos Police Officer Mike Balog they are concerned that children who roller blade and skateboard have no place to go.

Balog said that the skateboarders are currently skating on the streets, drain ditches of Wal-Mart and in front of local businesses like City Hall and the old police station.

"We have kids who skateboard," Balog said. "And the PD has to run them off so they have no place to go."

He added that the police department gets calls of skateboarders skating in front of local businesses and that he feels bad when he has to run them off.

"We are not against the kids," Balog said. "We are for them."

Town of Pecos City Manager, Carlos Yerena said that the city council is aware of the issue regarding the skate boarders and that there were possible locations available for the park.

"There is an area over by Maxey Park," Yerena said. "Across from it that could be a potential site."

He added that they could also be provided with a 50 percent match grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Millan's son, John Millan, 16, also skateboards and she said that she wished he could have some place to go.

"I think that it is unfair that they can't skate anywhere," Millan said.

Currently, Millan said that she takes her son to a skating park in Midland.

She added that she would like for the city to do something about getting a place for these children to go.

Millan has passed around petitions asking for the signature of those interested in helping and some of those are recognized business owners and elected officials like Councilman Johnny Terrazas, Sheriff Andy Gomez, Starkey Warren, owner of Airlawn Furniture, and James Brownlee, owner of Brownlee Hardware.

With all of their support Millan and Balog hope that they can find a central location for their skateboarding park.

Though money is tight, Yerena said that if the council members decided to provide the children with a skateboarding park, they could move money around so that they could afford the building of the park.

"A lot of people have mentioned having it in the downtown area," Becky Millan said.

She also added that several teachers have shown interest in helping to provide a place for these kids, one being Pecos High School Art teacher Walter Holland.

"Mr. Holland said that he was all for it," Millan said. "He said that he would even be interested in designing it. He would support it in anyway he could."

Though people may be worried about the safety issues of providing the kids with a place to skateboard, Balog said that he would be willing to offer classes on the safety of skateboarding and that they could also have them sign waivers.

Millan said that when she takes her son to the skateboarding park in Midland they have to sign a waiver and those children under the age of 18 have to wear a helmet, which is also provided for them for a fee.

Parents interested in helping out or signing the petition may contact Millan at 447-6059 or go by the Pecos Enterprise.

Community Center hosts seminar today

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 18, 2003 -- The Pecos Main Street Program and the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring a small business seminar at 6 p.m. today at the Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak Street.

The seminar is being presented by the Small Business Development Center at Sul Ross State University. This seminar presents an update for small businesses on current trends and requirements in hiring, developing, disciplining and terminating employees.

Learn the fair and legal procedures for recruiting and interviewing applicants. Discover the successful practices that lead to well trained and productive employees. Evaluate employee discipline strategies and develop clear and concise processes if employee termination becomes necessary.

For more information contact Tom Rivera at 445-9656 or 940-4387 or Linda Gholson at 445-2406.


PECOS, Tues., Feb. 18, 2003 -- High Monday 80. Low this morning 52. Forecast for tonight:  Mostly cloudy. Lows around 40. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph.  Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. Highs around 65. Northeast winds 10 to 20  mph. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of  showers and thunderstorms. Lows around 40. Thursday: Cloudy with a 40  percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs around  70. Friday: Partly cloudy. Lows 35 to 40. Highs around 65.

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