Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
School district's funds OK, but future shortfall possible
By ROSIE FLORES
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
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
"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
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,"
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
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,"
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
By JON FULBRIGHT
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
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
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
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
By JENNIFER GALVAN
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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 2003 by Pecos Enterprise