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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Enterprise files complaint over county meetinG

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 7, 2003 -- The Pecos Enterprise filed a complaint Monday alleging several violations of the state Open Meetings Act by the Reeves County Commissioners' Court, in connection with recent meetings dealing primarily with actions on the Reeves County Detention Center.

Enterprise Publisher Smokey Briggs said that he filed the complaint with Reeves County District Attorney Randy Reynolds, stating that he believed that the last two meetings held by the Commissioners' Court violated the law in several ways.

"First, the notice as posted by the Court did not comply with the law. When an emergency meeting is called the notice has to clearly identify what the emergency is and neither notice did this," Briggs said.

"Second, a governmental body can only call an emergency meeting to address a topic that requires immediate action because there is an immediate threat to public health or safety, or for a reasonably unforeseen situation," he said.

"I do not see how any of the agenda items on those two agendas qualify for that exemption."

County Commissioners called a special meeting on Wednesday, July 30, to discuss a new contract between the county and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on the man-day rate for BOP inmates housed at the RCDC I and II units, along with an $800,000 lump-sum payment by the BOP to the county. Commissioners also discussed approving contracts with a Washington, D.C. lawyer and lobbyist to help with the county's efforts to bring new BOP inmates to the recently completed RCDC III unit.

The meeting came two days after the commissioner's regularly scheduled meeting. County officials negotiated the agreement on July 24 in Washington.

On the agenda of their emergency meeting this past Monday, commissioners were to discuss and take action on the BOP Agreement Modification #7 and the man-day rate adjustment to $47.33.

They also were to discuss potential options for use of the Reeves County Detention Center III: present formal proposal to Bureau of Prisons, along with a follow-up on U.S. Department of Homeland Security Contract, and discussed efforts to acquire United States Marshal prisoners and pursue State of Arizona prisoners.

A public comments segment of the meeting, also posted on the agenda, attracted comments from several local residents unhappy with the county's recent actions involving the RCDC. The emergency meeting was held at 6 p.m., and was called after a town hall meeting had been set for the same time at the Reeves County Civic Center.

"The philosophy at the Pecos Enterprise is that the Open Meetings and Open Records laws were put in place for a reason. The people elected officials serve deserve the notice required by law so that they can show up at meetings and participate in their government," Briggs said.

County Judge Jimmy Galindo had not returned calls as of press time on the alleged violations, while 143rd District Attorney Randall W. Reynolds said, "I can confirm that I did receive a copy of the complaint about the Open Meetings Violation and we are looking into the complaint."

Briggs said that the violations looked very straightforward to him and he expected that the district attorney's office would move forward with the case in the near future.

City's tax rebate check declines for August

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 7, 2003 -- Rebate checks for the Town of Pecos City and several other area cities showed double-digit drops this month, according to figures released today by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's office.

Toyah also reported a double-digit decline in their check, which is based on sales made during June, while Balmorhea's rebate check jumped by nearly a third, the comptroller's figures indicated.

Pecos' check for the month, based on its 11/2 cent share of Texas' 8 1/4 cent sales tax, was $69,021, which represented a drop of 19.81 percent from August of 2002, when the city got $86,077 back from Austin. Of this year's amount, the Pecos Economic Development Corp. will receive one-sixth, or $11,503, for its operations.

After an increase in its rebate check last month, Augusts' drop leaves the city 3.76 percent behind last year's tax rebate numbers. Pecos has received $504,758 so far in 2003 in sales tax rebates from the comptroller's office.

Balmorhea's rebate check for the month was $1,426, which was 32.86 percent higher than last year's $1,047. However, for the first eight months of 2003 overall, the city has gotten back $7,043, which is a 13.22 percent drop from a year ago.

Toyah's check was for $657 this month, and was down 30.78 percent from the $949 it got in August of 2002. Overall, Toyah has gotten $3,365 in tax rebates, a 35.27 percent drop from last year.

Andrews, Big Spring, Crane, Wink and Monahans also reported declines of 10 percent or more in their tax rebate checks for August. Monahans' check, for $41,435, showed the biggest decline, as it was over 50 percent lower than the same time last year.

Cities that reported increases included both Midland and Odessa, Alpine, and Fort Stockton and Marfa, though the latter two were due in part to increases in their city sales tax rates since last year. Midland's check for $1.93 million was the area's largest, and was up 1.28 percent over last year, while Odessa got $1.41 million in tax rebates, an 8.48 percent increase.

The Reeves County Hospital District's check, based on its 1/2 cent sales tax, came to $25,385 this month. That's down 25.27 percent from a year ago, and for all of 2003, the hospital has gotten $209,899 in tax rebates, a drop of $14.13 percent from a year ago.

Statewide, Strayhorn's office said $263.5 million in sales tax rebates were sent to cities and counties in August, a 2.33 percent increase over 2002. Houston's check for $31.2 million was the single largest, and was up three-quarters of a percent over last year, while Dallas got the second largest check, for $18.2 million, which was 5.98 percent below their total for 2002.

Crockett lockers to be assigned

PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 7, 2003 -- Crockett Middle School students may pick up their schedules and locker assignment for the 2003-2004 school year on Thursday, Aug. 14.

Students with their last names ending in A-F can pick them up from 8-9 a.m.; G-L from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m.; M-R from 10-11 a.m. and S-Z from 11 a.m. until noon.


PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 7, 2003 -- High Wednesday 108. Low this morning 72. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 70s. Light and variable winds. Friday: Hot with highs near 110. Otherwise partly cloudy. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 70s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 110. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 70s. Highs near 109.


Manuel Avila and Juan Contreras

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Pecos Enterprise
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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