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Bond payoff cuts tax rate

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 Pecos residents will see a slight decrease in their property
tax bill this year, with the city council's adoption this morning of an
$8.3 million budget and a tax rate of 69.67 cents per $100 valuation.

Retired bond debt accounts for the decrease in the tax rate. General
fund revenues from taxes are estimated to increase by $17,800, despite a
$5 million drop in total valuation.

Council members held numerous workshops with department heads over the
past three months to formulate the conservative budget.

The council took no action on Reeves County's request to pay half the
recreation budget of $146,000.

Randy Graham said the county cut their budgeted expenses after making
that request, and "their revenue is quite a bit more than their
expenditures. I don't know that they need our help anymore."

He said the city supplies water free of charge to the golf course, ball
parks and Northside swimming pool, which has cost $35,900 per year. Of
that, $25,000 is used at the golf course.

Octavio Garcia said that additional work on the county's ball parks is
done by individuals, and he has used city equipment to mow the Little
League and Senior League fields.

"They are closing the Northside swimming pool, and we have been
furnishing water for that," said Elvia Reynolds.

Garcia said the pool is filled from an unmetered fire hydrant, so the
city has no means of determining how much that cost.

The Precinct 4 office had a meter, but Commissioner Bernardo Martinez
made a deal with him to charge only $5 per month, Garcia said.

"I don't see why we should have a special exception to that water
meter," Reynolds said.

Tom Rivera asked the council to consider paying up to $5,000 in utility
costs for the Reeves County Civic Center next year if the Pecos Chamber
of Commerce takes over operations from the county.

Government entities are not required to pay a user fee when they hold
meetings or training sessions in the center, and the chamber does not
want to be saddled with their utility bills, Rivera said.

The chamber now handles bookings for the center, and Rivera said that
109 meetings this year have been either government entities or
non-profit groups that do not pay a user fee.

"That's where we have run into problems if the chamber takes it over,"
he said. "it would be hard to pay utilitiy costs when we don't charge a

Mayor Dot Stafford said the city pays utilities where the chamber office
is located now.

Steve McCormick said that meter also has the senior center on it. He
estimated the cost for the chamber office at $200 to $300 per month.

Rivera said the long-term plan is to move the chamber office to the
civic center. Genora Prewit had asked at one time that the building be
made a part of the West of the Pecos Museum, he said.

Dick Alligood said the county has budgeted $12,000 for civic center
utilities in the past.

"We feel like we can reduce that considerably. We have asked the county
to allow us $5,000 for paying utilities as needed. We would like the
same from the city."

He said the chamber is working with Texas-New Mexico Power Co. to
provide a meter so it can be read before and after each use. The user
then will pay for their own electricity in addition to the user fee.

Alligood said that having the chamber office on site will give them
better control of the facility, and they can enforce the rules and
regulations concerning cleanup and payment for damages.

They are considering a part-time janitor, with voluteer work to be done
by probationers and jail trusties.

Elvia Reynolds questioned if the council could obligate funds for the
center before the chamber has signed a lease agreement with the county.

Alligood said the chamber needs to know whether the city will do their
part before they can go ahead. "The chamber does not wish to pursue this
if we are going to have to take on major debt that will bankrupt the
chamber," he said.

Mayor Dot Stafford said the budget includes $175,000 for utilities, and
McCormick said he expects all of it to be spent.

Rivera said the chamber also plans to do some work on the rodeo arena.
"The south stands are about to fall down. I plan on looking at securing
grants for that."

He said that John Saenz, president of the rdoeo committee, has been
sitting in on the meetings, because the rodeo is "probably the most
important" event of the year.

The county will help prepare the rodeo grounds for the rodeo and
concerts, Rivera said.

Reynolds said he feels the city would pay for their utility use, but he
needs to know more about the plan before committing the city to
anything. Mayor Stafford appointed him to the management committee that
will be formed if the plan goes forward.

Rivera said the management committee would have one member each from the
city and county, two from the chamber and three from the public at large.

The council also adopted on second reading an ordinance issuing $1.2
million in certificates of obligation to construct a landfill trench and
raised dumping rates to $50 per ton to help pay for it, recognized the
state's exemption to a city ordinance banning above-ground liquid
petroleum gas tanks and proclaimed September 16 as the official day of
celebrtion of Mexico's independence from Spain.

Council members will ride in the parade, which begins at 10 a.m.
Saturday at the rodeo grounds.

Russell Whitworth, Texas Deportment of Highways engineer, requested the
state exemption be recognized because they have an above-ground LPG fuel
tank at the yard on West Third Street.

Jack Brookshire, fire marshal, said he has inspected the site and it
meets all Texas Railroad Commission and fire commission codes, and "I
don't think it will be a great danger out there."

He said he was concerned about local residents who may want to install
propane tanks.

Johnson said that recognizing the state's exemption would not affect the
local ordinance.

Troy Moore, chief of police, said that an electronic lock has been
installed on the front door of the police station to protect dispatchers
working at night.

It will be locked after 6 p.m., and visitors can talks with the
dispatcher through a speaker on the outside, where a video camera is
also installed.

"In the past, we had a shooting in the lobby," Moore said. "That will
protect our dispatchers more at night."

Municipal Court Judge Phyllis Salyer reported that 162 cases were filed
for the month of August, and 147 were closed. Fines and court costs
totaled $8,291.

Pecos Police referred eight juveniles to Reeves County Juvenile Court,
while two were referred by the sheriffs office and one each by parents
and others, reported Alberto Alvarez Jr., chief juvenile probation

Tax assessor-collector Elfida Zuniga reported delinquent tax collections
of $15,086 for the city during August.

The council approved all reports and paid bills totaling $269,545.

Reacting to the city's lack of action, County Judge Jimmy Galindo told
the Enterprise that the council does not appropriate money
from the general fund to pay for water at county-owned facilities.

"There is a number of unaccounted for water points: fire protection,
cemeteries, ball parks and golf course," Galindo said.

"It takes money to produce that water from the well to the final
distribution point, but the city doesn't subsidize water and sewer from
the general fund," he said.

"Ultimately, those water points are paid for by all water users in the
city. We are talking about common ground."

He said the library, ball parks and golf course have common interest to
everyone in the city. "The county would still like for the council to
consider them," he said. "If so, we will continue to fund 50 percent of
the fire department."

Taxi service 50 cents per ride

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PECOS, 1995 - West Texas Opportunities traveled 265,041 miles during the
first half of 1995, transporting passengers to the doctor, to the bank,
to pay bills and to other destinations within the Permian Basin Region.

Pecos is one of the cities where WTO operates a van to transport the
elderly, handicapped and others who do not have their own vehicle.

Anyone is eligible to use the service, which charges 50 cents per ride.

Cool weather needed for mosquito control

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PECOS, 1995 - Mosquitos are hatching out in water left standing after
recent rains, and city crews are gearing up to spray pesticides, said
Armando Gil, sanitation officer.

Unlike cotton farmers, Gil is hoping for cooler weather to help with
mosquito control.

A cold front produced showers and thunderstorms and dropped temperatures
across most of Texas.

The cooler, rainy weather is expected to continue across most of the
state tonight and Thursday.

Early today, the cold front was located along a line from just east of
Paris to Del Rio and westward to El Paso.

In West Texas, there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms over
extreme western and southern sections and a chance of rain from the
Permian Basin northward into the Panhandle.

Meanwhile, a McAllen woman has contracted the first case of dengue fever
imported from Mexico, a state health official says.

Dr. Leonel Vela, head of the Texas Department of Health's South Texas
region, said Tuesday the unidentified woman contracted the
mosquito-carried virus while traveling in Reynosa, Mexico. Reynosa is
located just south of the Rio Grande south of McAllen.

The woman is recovering from the illness, Vela said.

The case is linked to an outbreak of dengue fever that struck Reynosa in
late August, he said.

``This is not an acquired case here,'' Vela said. ``We are pretty sure,
based on the history.''

The health department received the woman's test results Tuesday from a
U.S. Centers for Disease Control lab in Puerto Rico, Vela said.

The woman's physician was notified, Vela said.

Dengue fever is an acute viral illness. Symptoms include the sudden
onset of high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, nausea,
vomiting and a bright-red rash that appears three to four days after the
fever begins.

The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus
mosquitoes. The incubation period for the virus ranges from one to seven

Nine other Lower Rio Grande Valley residents have been tested because
they are suspected cases, Vela said.

``We are not calling them final cases yet,'' he said. However, ``they
have a strong clinical history for dengue and our initial test shows
there is reactivity.''

Health officials in South Texas have been on the alert for possible
cases since the outbreak began in Reynosa last month.

The health department has pledged to spend at least $250,000 to fight
the virus through education campaigns and laboratory work, Vela said.

County loses city tax collections

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - In just 15 minutes this morning, the Pecos City Council
saved $8,000 by switching tax collectors.

The council approved an offer by the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD to collect
city taxes this coming year for $22,800.

Under a contract with Reeves County, the city would have paid $30,800.
The city shut down its tax office several years ago, transferring that
responsibility to the county tax assessor-collector.

Reeves County Commissioners surprised the city council this year with an
increase in the contract amount and also hired a new firm for delinquent
tax collections.

Calame, Linebarger, Graham and Pena has collected delinquent taxes for
the county, city, school district and hospital board for years. They
continue with all but the county.

Hospital board members set an emergency meeting for 11:55 a.m. today to
consider ad valorem tax collection in anticipation the school board will
make them an offer Monday.

P-B-T President Linda Gholson said the board has set a special meeting
for Monday to discuss the offer.

In today's meeting, P-B-T tax assessor-collector Lydia Prieto asked the
council what amounts they set for exemptions to determine if it was
compatible with the school's.

Mayor Dot Stafford said the exemptions are $15,000 for over age 65,
$10,000 for medical and up to $3,000 for veterans.

Prieto said the school district has adopted the same exemptions, so that
will not be a problem.

Dr. Elvia Reynolds said he understood that the school district does not
offer split payments, as the city does, and that may have to be changed.

"It would be pretty confusing," said city attorney Scott Johnson. The
council can vote to require lump-sum payments, he said.

"They are debating changing theirs, so they might do the same," Reynolds

Stafford said that a notice will be posted to inform taxpayers if the
city does change the split payment provision.

Dr. Reynolds' motion to accept the school district's proposal carried

Johnson said he would make some minor changes in the proposed contract
for the school board to consider Monday, and the council can adopt it

It will become effective October 1, the start of the city's fiscal year.

Stafford said that the school tax office will be open every working day
during the year, closing only on legal holidays.

That was a concern of the council, she said, because the school in the
past has closed its tax office in the summer and for lengthy school
holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

Youth advisory council liaison to council

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - Pecos City Council is accepting applications for its new
"Pecos Youth Advisory Commission," a program designed to involve youth
in bettering the community.

Danny Rodriguez heads up the effort, which is patterned on a similar
programm in Killeen.

The Killeen City Council created the youth advisory commission in 1993
to serve as a liaison between the city and youth of the community.

It's purpose is to assist in minimizing community problems relating to
youth and to encourage the positive growth and development of youth by
involving them in healthy, enlightening, empowering, social, cultural
and recreational activities that are drug and alcohol free.

The YAC operates under the unbrella of the city council. However, the
youth set their own budget, plan their program year and participate in
writing and redefining their bylaws.

Membership consists of 21 stuidents grades 8-12. They are selected on
leadership ability, community involvement and vision for the future.

Appointments are for one year. Each youth takes an oath of office, which
is filed with the Secretary of State.

Killeen youth held a Spring Break Day Camp for lower income children;
National Youth Service Day; "Let's Stop Kids Killing Kids" campaign;
Summer Explosion; Make A Difference Day; Random Acts of Kindness; Great
Texas Trash Off; and Students Against Driving Drunk Conference.

They are planning a "Leader for a Day" project to allow youth to walk in
the shoes of the mayor, city mnager, fire chief, police chief, city
attorney, etc. for a day. Youth will be exposed to the real world of
local leadership and will gain insights into the vocation of municipal

Commission meetings are held in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings
Law, and an agenda is posted in advance.

Civic center operation and tax collection are the main topics of
discussion for the regular meeting of Pecos City Council Thursday.

Tom Rivera, Pecos Chamber of Commerce executive director, will present
the chamber's plans to operate the Reeves County Civic Center.

The chamber asked for city participation in paying up to $5,000 for
utilities while using the civic center free of charge for city meetings.

Reeves County owns the building, which was constructed in part with bed
tax funds collected by the city.

Property tax collection has been handled by the county's tax
assessor-collector, but the council agreed in the last meeting to pursue
a contract with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD.

They will consider an intergovernmental agreement proposed by the school
district for tax collection.

Another tax matter concerns appointment of a member to the Reeves County
Appraisal District board of directors for a two-year term.

Chief Appraiser Carol Markham said that the term of Valera Gatewood is
expiring, and she recommended her re-appointment.

Elfida Zuniga, tax assessor-collector, recommended the council approve
the sale of eight lots in North Pecos to a neighboring landowner who
offered $800. The lots were taken in a tax sale.

The council will also consider providing water to the 4-H building for
$5 per month and proclaim Spirit Week.

Discussion begins at 7:30 a.m. in the council chamber of City Hall. All
meetings are open to the public.

School wins tax collection contract

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Staff Writer
Pecos, 1995 - Pecos City Council this morning approved a contract with
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD to collect city taxes for the coming year,
agreed to pay $5,000 toward operating costs of the Reeves County Civic
Center under chamber of commerce management and sold at a profit eight
lots taken in a tax sale.

They also re-appointed Valera Gatewood to the Reeves County Appraisal
District board of directors, agreed to provide water to the 4-H barn at
$5 per month and proclaimed October 2-6 as "Pecos Eagle Spirit Week."

Mayor Dot Stafford noted that the council received a tax collection
proposal from Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo after the agenda was
posted. Copies were distributed to the council, but it was not discussed.

Linda Gholson, P-B-T board president, and tax assessor-collector Lydia
Prieto were present to discuss the tax collection contract.

Gholson said the school district only has an estimate of costs. They are
considering a new proposal for data processing and billing that could
save money, she said.

"That's why we are having a special meeting Tuesday night," she said.
"We are taking all options to the board as to who we will do it with."

Dr. Elvia Reynolds suggested adding a paragraph to the proposed contract
that it will be automatically renewed each year unless either entity
gives written notice of proposed changes before June 30.

Gholson said that the school board will not take any action affecting
the city without consulting the council. That would include accepting
Galindo's proposal to move all tax collecting to the county.

"This whole process has been real painful, but I think we have the
potential of saving taxpayers money in the future because of the city
and hospital taking the initiative and looking at other options (for tax
collection)," said Randy Graham. "I see tax collections under one roof
in the future."

Reynolds said that a meeting Tuesday morning of representatives from the
county, city, hospital district and school district should be a start
toward that for next year.

"Jimmy's proposal is a good one, but it is too late," he said.

Gholson said that Tuesday morning's meeting could be the first of many
"to get together and get something worked out for the best interest of

Dr. Reynolds made the motion to adopt the contract with changes. Saul
Roquemore seconded, and it passed with Danny Rodriguez abstaining
because he is employed by the school district.

Tom Rivera presented a draft proposal for chamber operation of the civic
center and asked the council to provide $5,000 toward operating costs,
including utilities.

He said civic center utilities cost $7,225 last year, while user fee
revenue was only $3,481.

"We will try to recoup some utility costs by establishing a user fee for
electricity," he said.

The county spent $38,000 maintaining the center, and the chamber can do
it for a lot less, he said. While the county will still own the
building, the chamber will use volunteer labor to refurbish it and will
apply for grants to upgrade both the center and rodeo arena.

He said that the proposal had been changed to allow the rodeo committee
more control of the rodeo arena, following a meeting Wednesday with the
rodeo committee.

One member of the rodeo committee would be added to the proposed
committee that will have oversight of the civic center, Rivera said.

However, Graham asked if that committee, composed of nine
representatives from the county, city, rodeo, chamber and private
citizens, is really necessary.

"This town has enough committees," he said. "Is there any way to work
out bylaws and stuff with your own directors instead of having another
committee? I have enough confidence in you all handling this thing."

Rivera said Graham had a point. "We do have too many committees. But if
there's any changes, we will provide you a copy. We won't just
arbitrarily change fees and things on our own."

The council approved $5,000 for operating costs, with Gerald Tellez Jr.
abstaining because he is on the chamber board of directors.

Manuel Muro bid $800 for eight lots near his home at 325 N. Pecan St.
Taxes owed to the county, hospital, city and school district total $280,
said Elfida Zuniga, county tax assessor-collector.

City Attorney Scott Johnson said he advised Muro to bid the appraised
value, but he had never seen a bid higher than taxes owed. The profit
would be pro-rated among the four entities, he said.

Greg Mitchell asked the council to help out the 4-H adult leaders with
water to the 4-H barn because the county has cut their budget.

"The adult leaders will have to pay the electric and water bill," he
said. "We have a lot of kids involved."

The water bill has been $1,100 to $1,200 per year, he said, and the
electric bill is $2,100 to $2,200.

"We are trying to keep our regular programs going. Something has to give
somewhere. If we can't get any relief we will have to cut back on some
other programs that are doing a pretty good job," he said.

Danny Rodriguez made the motion to set a $5 per month water fee, second
by Gerald Tellez Jr. and passed with Graham abstaining because he is a
4-H leader.

Three members of the Pecos High School student council were present for
the "Spirit Week" proclamation.

Spirit Week activities include wearing a favorite college shirt to
school on Monday; dressing like a friend on Tuesday's "Seeing Double
Day," wearing a tie on Wednesday, a hat or cap on Thursday and purple
and gold on Friday - homecoming day.

Youth advisory council members chosen

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Staff Writer
PECOS, 1995 - Youth chosen to serve on the Pecos Youth Advisory
Commission will take the oath of office in a special meeting of Pecos
City Council at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 9.

Chosen to serve on the commission are Nettie Rodriguez, Michael
Chabarria, Kelsey Hathorn, Kris Armstead and Wade Dodson from the senior
class; Terrance Baily, a junior; Stephanie Gonzales and Belinda Heard,
sophomores; and Rebecca Spencer, Tye Graham and April Ryan, freshmen.

Eighth graders chosen are Dana Warren, Brandi Harrison, Sara Matta and
Roxie Natividad. From the seventh grade are Christopher Matta, Lyndall
Elkins, Nicole Payne, Randall Reynolds, Trent Riley and Meagan Joplin.

"We want to thank everyone who took the time to apply," said Geneva
Martinez, city secretary.

Councilmen Danny Rodriguez and Elvia Reynolds were appointed by the
council to form the commission, which will serve as a liaison between
the council and youth of the community.

The commission will hold regular meetings similar to city council
meetings, posting an agenda in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings
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Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise
324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321