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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas


March 26, 1998

Pecos among the highest property tax rates

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 26, 1998 - Pecos City continues to have one of
the highest tax rates in the state, according to a recent
study, and local community leaders are not making any
promises that that will change anytime soon.

In a study conducted by a non-profit organization, Texas
Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA), Pecos ranked
thirteenth out of 570 taxing areas in 386 Texas cities with
populations of 3,500 or greater for its 1995-96 total
adjusted tax rate.

Along with Pecos, Kermit ranked number 12, Crane, at number
10, and Van Horn, at 5.

Property tax rates in Pecos totaled $3.12 per $100 of
property valuation. The total rate consisted of $0.69 levied
by the city, $1.40 levied by Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent
School District, and $0.35 by Reeves County Hospital

To enhance the over-all economy of Pecos, civic leaders hope
to draw workforce and business industry interests into the
city. The question that is volleyed back and forth is, How
can we make Pecos more attractive to national and
international business?' One place to start may be by
cutting the city's uniquely-high property tax rate.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo said that the tax rate was
the "number one priority" in Pecos.

"Any company looking to make an investment here will look at
the tax rate . . . The only way we'll be able to attract
business for a 20-30 year investment in the community is by
lowering the tax rate," Galindo said.

But, he added, as important as the tax rate is the tax base.

"We're doing as much, if not more, with our tax money," said
Galindo, comparing Pecos, which has a tax base of $300
million, with Fort Stockton, which, he said, operated on a
tax base in the billions of dollars.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board President Frank Perea said
that the school district would soon be making a final loan
payment that may cut 6 cents off its total $1.40 tax rate
next year.

However, he said, the district auditor told the board
recently that the school district would either have to
"drastically" cut expenses or raise the tax rate. "He
recommended we do both," said Perea. "We are doing what we
can to start the coming year with a balanced budget," he
said, "and finding the areas in the district we feel are

Pecos Mayor Dot Stafford said that securing a higher tax
base was vital to Pecos. "We have two or three very good
prospects." She continued, "All the taxing entities want to
lower the tax rates and not cut the services provided.
Ideally, we should be able to maintain (the current rates)
or lower them."

"It's a tough economic time we're existing in," said Reeves
County Hospital District Board President Jeannette Alligood.
"We try to operate as efficiently as possible and still
offer the services that the public requires." Financial
difficulties at the hospital are incurred partly by
declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. On the
future of the hospital tax rate, Alligood said, "Hopefully
we'll be able to hold our own or go down."

For a residential home valued at $100,000, the highest tax
bill in Texas was $3,494 in Robstown and the lowest was
$1,273 in Glen Rose. These are taxes that would have been
due after deducting all generally available homestead
exemptions. No adjustments were made to account for
homestead exemptions available only to special groups of
taxpayers, such as elderly, disabled or veterans.

In Pecos, according to the TTARA report, a home-owner with a
$100,000 home in 1995-96 would have paid a total of $2,855
in local property taxes, fourteenth highest in the state.

The TTARA Research Foundation report also has similar tax
burden and ranking information for commercial, industrial,
oil and gas, and utility properties valued at $100,000. The
local tax burdens and rankings for these properties were:
$3,374 for commercial, $3,031 for industrial, $3,210 for oil
and gas, and $3,107 for utility properties.

According to officials at TTARA, all property must be
appraised uniformly -otherwise tax burdens will vary among
jurisdictions and among types of property within the same
jurisdiction. Uniformity in appraisals insures that all
categories of property in all parts of the state are being
treated fairly. By law, most property should be appraised at
100 percent of market value.

An appraisal ratio over 100 percent means that property will
face a higher tax burden because it is appraised at more
than market value, while a ratio below 100 percent means
just the opposite. State-wide, average ratios of tax
appraisals to market value ranged from 82 percent (Spurger
ISD in Tyler County) to 127 percent (San Vicente ISD in
Brewster County).

The average appraisal ratio in Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD was
103 percent. Appraisal ratios for specific categories of
property ranged from 92 percent for farm acreage to 111
percent for commercial real estate.

Property taxes are the largest source of tax revenue in
Texas, according to officials at the TTARA, 50 percent
larger than the $11 billion state sales tax, and it
continues to grow rapidly. State-wide, more than 58 percent
of all property taxes now are levied by school districts,
with school taxes accounting for more than half of the
property taxes paid by most taxpayers. School districts have
led the way in a dramatic rise in property tax levies over
the past decade.

Across Texas, total property taxes grew form $8.1 billion in
1984 to $16 billion in 1995, a 97 percent increase. In
comparison, school district levies climbed 124 percent, from
$4.2 billion in 1984 to $9.3 billion in 1995. Levies made by
cities, counties and various kinds of special districts
increased by 59, 78 and 74 percent, respectively, over this
same period.

In contrast to the rapid growth of levies, total local
taxable values have increased and decreased at moderate
rates in Texas for the last ten years (1995's $651 billion
total was just under 7.1 percent greater than that of a
decade ago). However, the nearly $36 billion increase, 5.8
percent, is state-wide taxable values experienced in 1995
was by far the biggest gain in any single year since 1985.

Half of the 14 categories of property have declined in value
since 1985, while seven have increased. Particularly
noteworthy has been the almost 63 percent drop in the total
value of oil, gas and mineral properties from $86.6 billion
in 1985 to $32.2 billion in 1995, and the more than 34
percent jump in single-family residential property values
from $223.8 billion to $300.8 billion.

The TTARA report shows that the various state-mandated and
local option homestead exemptions account for the largest
portion of the total amount exempted from property taxation.
Together, the value shielded from property taxation due to
homestead exemptions increased by 50 percent, from $50.6
billion in 1986 to $75.9 billion in 1995. The total property
value not taxed due to all the various exemptions and
special valuations combined was $127.1 billion, or more than
16 percent of the total market value of all taxable property.

Local property values decline

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 26, 1998 - Supplemental certified property
appraisal totals recently released by the Reeves County
Appraisal District, show a decrease in nearly all appraised
property values of local taxing districts.

The corrected totals show a decrease in real estate and
mineral property value as follows:

Reeves County decreased by $88,360 for an appraised value of
$360,619,810; City of Pecos decreased by $48,340 for an
appraised value of $116,177,070; City of Toyah decreased by
$3,000 for an appraised value of $1,382,860; City of
Balmorhea did not change; Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent
School District decreased by $589,170 for an appraised value
of $380,622,330; Balmorhea Independent School District
decreased by $10 for an appraised value of $18,649,790;
Reeves County Water Improvement District, Number 2,
decreased by $2,000 for an appraised value of $3,657,680;
and the Reeves County Hospital District decreased by $88,360
for an appraised value of $360,619,810.

Chief Appraiser Carol King Markham said that the main reason
the appraised value of the P-B-T ISD (by far the largest
decline in value) decreased as much as it did was because of
an Aug. 12, 1997 election that increased the number of
homestead exemptions for schools. An overwhelming majority
of Texas voters, 94 percent, approved the $1 billion
property tax cut that increased the minimum homestead
property tax exemption from $5,000 to $15,000.

Young poets selected for publication

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 26, 1998 - Eight young poets from Pecos will
have their poems published in the Anthology of Poetry by
Young Americans.

Pecos Elementary School third-grade students in the gifted
and talented program submitted poems for publication in
November and eight of those were selected for publication,
according to school principal Gail Norris.

"Six of the students in my class, submitted their poems and
out of those four were selected for publication," said
teacher Elaine McKee.

Students in the other gifted and talented class at the
school did the same thing, with four of those selected also,
according to Norris.

McKee stated that this is the first year she has done this
at the school and that all the students were very excited
about it.

"We studied the forms of poetry and after that we wrote our
poems," said McKee.

The poems were submitted in November of last year and the
school was contacted recently about the poems that would be

The program is designed to foster creative expression among
young people by submitting a poem to the Anthology of Poery,

"I was shocked and very, very proud of the students whose
poems were selected," said McKee.

McKee stated that this is a big honor and that all the
students did very well.

"They are all going to purchase a book and the school is
going to purchase one also," said McKee. "Of course, I want
to get one, too," she said.

Students whose poems were selected include, Jennifer
Palomino, Kelsey McKinnon, Crystal Ikeler, R.J. Guerra,
Alyssia Garcia,, Eleanor Mason, Joann Soto and Joseph Tarin.

Four of the poems selected for publication will appear in
Sunday's Free Press, a supplement of the Pecos Enterprise.

The Anthology of Poetry, Inc. received a large number of
submissions from students and teachers, according to Norris.

Bond set at $75,000 in Ward County drug bust

Staff Writer
MONAHANS, March 26, 1998 - An individual transporting more
than 500 pounds of marijuana didn't bother to conceal it
very well, according to Permian Basing Drug Task Force
Commander Tom Finley.

Javier Rodriguez, 20 years old, of Hagerman, N.M. was
arrested for possession of more than 50 pounds of marijuana
but less than 2,000 pounds and was transported to the Ward
County Jail in Monahans Tuesday.

Bond was set at $75,000 late yesterday afternoon, according
to Monahans Sheriff Ben Keele.

Rodriguez was pulled over after drug task force officer
Robert Martin noticed his Chevy Suburban weave off the road.

"I don't know if he was weaving because he spotted Martin or
because the smell had gotten to him," said Finley.

Finley stated that the marijuana was stored loosely in the
back of the Suburban.

"Martin walked up to the suburban and was asking for his
driver's license and insurance when he smelled it, and
spotted the marijuana in the back," said Finley. "Part of it
was covered with a blanket, but most of it could be seen,
just by standing by the vehicle," he said.

"Martin said he could smell it as soon as the driver opened
his window," said Finley.

During the search, about 500 pounds of suspected marijuana
valued at $332,000 was seized.

Rodriguez was stopped just four miles outside of Monahans,
at mile marker 86.

"This is the second largest drug bust this year (in the
Permian Basin), the first one was in February, where 700
pounds were confiscated," said Finley.

This makes 990 pounds of marijuana confiscated so far this
month, according to Finley.

"I know this shipment was enroute to Odessa, but to where or
who we don't know," said Finley.

Problem dialing 911 not with emergency system

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 26, 1998 - Trouble that a Pecos resident
recently had when trying to dial 911 was not due to problems
with the local 911 system but was rather due to dial
blocking services chosen by the phone customer, said Charles
Watkins, Public Affairs Manager for GTE.

The problem occurred last Thursday evening, when a local
resident tried to dial the emergency number and only got a
busy signal. GTE investigated that case and found that the
customer had a total block on their phone.

Watkins said that many times, customers have total blocks
put on their phones when they really mean to have toll
blocks. Total blocks restrict phone customers from being
able to call 911 along with any other 900 number. He said
that a GTE representative went to the customer's home and
reprogrammed the phone so that they will be able to dial 911
in the future.

People who have had their phones connected with such
restrictions need to check which type of restriction they
have, and if they mistakenly have the total restriction,
they need to call GTE's toll free repair number (listed in
the front of local phone books) to have their restriction
changed if they wish to have 911 access, Watkins said.

In the meantime, anyone who tries to dial 911 and gets a
busy signal should call the police department's local
number, 445-4911, to have emergency services dispatched to
their residence.

Watkins said he wanted to assure the community that 911 is a
very reliable system. He said that the local system has only
had two outages since January, and that both were back up
and running within an hour and before technicians arrived to
repair the system. The first was caused when a new computer
system was installed, but the backup kicked in, Watkins
said. He said he wasn't sure of the cause of the other

"The local 911 system is the enhanced 911 system, which is
state-of-the-art and has the newest technology available,"
said Watkins.

Crockett holds parents' night

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 26, 1998 - Crockett Middle School will hold two
events next week that parents may wish to attend to help
their students plan their high school educations.

Parent Nights will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Crockett
library Monday, March 30, Tuesday, March 31 and Thursday,
April 2. Sessions will be provided in both English and
Spanish to prepare students' personal educational plans as
freshmen entering Pecos High School.

"During each semester I take a couple of weeks to teach the
eighth-grade students about high school graduation
requirements," said Career Investigations teacher Kim

During the week of March 30 -April 3, students in the
eighth-grade Career Investigations classes will be learning
graduation requirements and how to prepare their four-year
high school schedules.

"The students learn how to prepare a four-year plan based on
the personal career pathways they have chosen," said
Calhoun. Career pathways are chosen according to the
students' interests, she said, but may be changed as the
students mature.

Parents of students taking Career Investigations are
encouraged to visit the school any time during the day and
to attend Parent Nights as well.

"I want parents to know what arena scheduling is and what
classes their children are taking," Calhoun said.

Calhoun explained that arena scheduling, which will be
adopted by Pecos High School for the next school year, is
like college scheduling. Classes are assigned to the first
students who sign up for them, and students choose alternate
classes in case they don't get their first choices.

Calhoun said that at a later date, parents and students will
meet with high school counselors in special counseling
advisement sessions to discuss their questions and concerns.

Pecos chamber presents jobs seminar

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 26, 1998 - The Pecos Chamber of Commerce will
host a presentation on the Texas Department of Economic
Development's Smart Jobs Fund at 1:30 p.m. Monday, March 30
in the banquet room of the Best Western Swiss Clock Inn,
located at Country Club Drive and I-20.

The Smart Jobs Fund is an organization that provides grants
to businesses to train their employees. This innovative
business incentive program is affordable, flexible and easy
to access. It was designed to increase the competitiveness
of Texas businesses in the global economy.

Because Smart Jobs is employer-driven, the employer decides
who to train, what type of training is needed and who will
provide the training. Smart Jobs can provide funding for
various types of training, including on-the-job, classroom
and computer-based training.

"We are trying to have more seminars this year that will
help our local businesses than we have in past years," said
Chamber Executive Director Tom Rivera.

A company is eligible for a Smart Jobs grant if it has been
in business for at least one year, has at least one
employee, demonstrates financial viability and is current on
state tax obligations.

"We will base our decisions on holding future seminars on
the participation in the next few that we hold," Rivera said.

Please contact the Pecos Chamber if Commerce of you would
like to attend the presentation, or for more information, by
calling 915-445-2406 or by writing to P.O. Box 27/111 S.
Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772. Or, you can e-mail the chamber

"We are planning another big seminar in May where lots of
state agencies will be represented," said Rivera.


PECOS, March 26, 1998 - Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000
in reward for information leading to the arrest and Grand
Jury indictment of person(s) responsible for the incident
described below. Anyone having any information on this crime
or any other crime including narcotics can call "Crime
Stoppers" at 445-9898 and you will remain anonymous.

On Feb. 3 at approximately 12:04 a.m., the Pecos Police
Department was advised of a burglary of a motor vehicle that
occurred in the 500 block of East Fourth Street in the
parking lot of the Del Rio Bar. Sometime between the hours
of 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 a person or persons took
a Winchester .22 caliber rifle and a Winchester .410 rifle,
both with brown wood finishes, from a gun rack that was
located behind the front seat of the vehicle. Entry was
gained by opening the small vent window on the driver's
side. The stolen guns were valued at $300.


PECOS, March 26, 1998 - EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.


A 1998, white, four-wheel-drive, short bed, ½ ton, extended
cab pickup truck was reported stolen from Colt Chevrolet,
1600 Palmer, at 1:45 p.m. March 17.


Elias Dominguez Sanchez, 45, was arrested at 2:36 p.m. March
17 at the Circle M Bar for public intoxication.


Jesse Maldonado Abila, 29, Barstow, was arrested at 11:40
p.m. March 19 for public intoxication.


While the owner was inside a local establishment, a red,
1979 pickup was vandalized the evening of March 22. The
truck had graffiti painted on it and tires were slashed.


Three fence posts were stolen out of a fence at County Road
424 and Highway 17 on March 20.


A house in the 200 block of S. Plum St. was burglarized
sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 10:27 p.m. on March 22.


Roberto Mendez Castillo was arrested at 10:40 p.m. March 22
in the 400 block of W. 3rd for public intoxication.


Maria Guadalupe Valenzuela was arrested at 7:03 p.m. March
19 on three counts of forgery.


Jeffrey Martinez was arrested at 12:34 a.m. March 22 in the
500 block of S. Pecan for driving under the influence of
alcohol by a minor and reckless driving.


Sylvia Ortiz was arrested at 3:28 a.m. March 22 in the 100
block of Locust for public intoxication.


Albert Corrales was arrested at 3:28 a.m. March 22 in the
100 block of Locust for public intoxication.


Jesus Martinez was arrested at 5:28 p.m. March 22 in the 900
block of Cherry for assault under the family violence act.


Marcos Galindo was arrested at 8:36 a.m. March 24 in the 400
block of Walnut on a warrant for a parole violation.


Angelica Orona was arrested at 8:11 p.m. March 24 in the 500
block of S. Walnut on a warrant service.


PECOS, March 26, 1998 - High Wednesday,. 93, low this
morning, 56. The sunny rain-free weather was good while it
lasted, but it's over as forecasts call for showers and
thunderstorms across most of the state tonight and Friday.
The weather change will be triggered by an upper level
disturbance entering West Texas tonight and moving eastward
during the night and Friday. The weather will be improving
over the weekend except in West Texas where some showers and
thunderstorms are expected on Sunday. Showers and
thunderstorms are expected across all of West Texas tonight,
but sunny and breezy conditions will return on Friday. Lows
tonight will be in the 40s and 50s in West Texas, highs
Friday will be in the 70s.

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Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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