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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Commissioners look at tax cut, budget shortfall

Staff Writer

A public hearing to discuss a rollback tax election was discussed during the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting held Monday at the courthouse.

Reeves County Tax Assessor-Collector Elfida Zuniga was on hand to discuss the effective tax rate and the rollback tax rate during the meeting.

The calculated 2004 tax rate is .42626 per $100 valuation and the rollback rate would be .40545 per $100 valuation, according to Zuniga.

“Our revenue will be over $1.8 million with the effective tax rate and with the rollback (rate) it would be $2 million,” said Zuniga.

Zuniga said that they needed to make a decision and that the effective tax rate was lower than last year.

Zuniga said that if they stayed with the effective tax rate the group would not need to take anymore action, but if they were going with the rollback tax rate, they would need to schedule a public hearing.

“We need to advertise it,” said Zuniga.

Zuniga said that the residential property rates would go down. “We had a lot of mineral values go up, but taxes will go down,” she said.

Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens said that he recalls that the revenue used to over $2 million a year.

“This court has voted to bring the tax rate down, when you look at the school, city and hospital the rate is higher,” said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

The commissioners’ action on the tax rate comes while the county is dealing with a new shortfall in the general budget, due to a lack of prisoners at the Reeves County Jail.

“We had projected $700,000 in U.S. Marshals Inmates and have only brought in $140,000 and it’s already the end of August,” said Galindo.

The Marshal’s Service has not placed as many inmates as expected in Reeves County Jail so far this year. Inmates set for hearings or trials in U.S. District Court in Pecos have kept the Town of Pecos City’s Criminal Justice Center at capacity during the same time period.

“We actually need additional revenue,” said Owens.

“That still leaves a $300,000 gap,” said Galindo.

With a deadline of Sept. 30 to get a new budget and tax rate in place, Zuniga told commissioners they need to act quickly. She said information about the public hearing needed to be published seven days before the hearing actually takes place.

“We need to do this soon, now that the paper is published just once a week,” she said. “Can’t we advertise it in another paper?” asked Precinct 3 Herman Tarin.

“No, it needs to be done locally, to give the people a chance to see it and attend the public hearing,” said Zuniga.

“I think we need to use the rollback rate, just to be safe,” said Tarin.

“The budget needs to be filed and the tax rate incorporated into it, you can’t adopt the tax rate until (approving) the budget,” said Owens.

“I think the consensus is that we have a rollback election and 40 1/2 cents,” said Galindo. “We need to publish a public hearing.”

Zuniga told the group that the tax exemptions would also remain the same.

In other action, commissioners listened to a report from Texas Department of Transportation Engineer Muhammad Moabed.

“Every so often we approach cities and counties and ask for a wish-list for projects and include it in the transportation program,” said Moabed.

He told commissioners that he encouraged them to visit their website and get more detailed information about what types of projects the county can ask for.

“They need to be submitted to the department by September,” he said.

Moabed said that funding has always been a problem, that money is tight, but that all projects are considered.

“We have employees that can ride with you and take a look to see what project you would like to submit to be considered,” he said.

Galindo mentioned three separate projects including a bypass route for trucks carrying radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 75 miles north of Pecos. “This way they wouldn’t have to travel through traffic area,” said Galindo.

Landscaping was also mentioned and having a divided road for I-20.

“The landscaping is already in the works,” said Muhammad.

Muhammad said that a “relief road” is also in the works and stated that he hopes the county becomes an active player.

“It’s up to the legislature, the relief route is something we’ve been trying to work on and the four-lane, that’s a good project as far as mobility,” he said.

He suggested that the group come back next month and make a presentation to the court. Under reports from various departments, Peggy Cox, with Madera Valley Water asked the court to sponsor the water department in their effort to obtain a grant from the Community Development Program, under the office of Rural Affairs.

Cox said that they are a non-profit organization that provides water to many county residents on the northern side of the city.

“You want us to sponsor you, as you apply for this grant?” said Galindo.

“Yes, we received another grant many years ago to make improvements and now we need to make some more,” said Cox.

Cox said that they needed to replace the old five-inch lines that were installed in 1965. “We’re looking at least 50 miles,” said Cox.

Also during the reports session of the meeting, Emily Fernandes spoke about the Reeves County Library.

“Often the library is closed, because the librarian is there by herself and there’s nobody to relieve her,” she said.

Fernandes said librarian Sally Perry’s funding has been cut so much and that she needs help.

“I feel that a library is very important to a community,” said Fernandes. “A lot of people use our library, but it can’t be run by one person only.”

Ray Morrison said that he has two years library experience, both paid and unpaid. “I would like to volunteer to help Sally out on a limited basis,” he said.

Morrison said that he takes care of his elderly mother, but that he was interested in a position at the library.

“I’ve volunteered there at times and I know it takes more than one person to do it all,” said Morrison.

“People do use the library and we appreciate the volunteer service there,” said Galindo.

CDRI offers advanced orienteering

The Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute will host an advanced orienteering workshop, Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the CDRI landsite. The class will be taught by Dan Stoye, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army Special Services.

Participants will begin by reviewing and building on their map-reading and compass skills. Learning how to use a GPS unit in conjunction with a map for land navigation will also be covered. Prerequisites: Participants should be in good health as the class will involve a moderate to strenuous hike (up to 5 miles) through rough terrain. Students should have attended the Introduction to Orienteering class and/or be able to use a compass and topographic map. Reservations are required. Adults and children ages 12 and up may enroll.

Fee is $35.00 for CDRI members and $40.00 for nonmembers. Bring sack-lunch, water, snacks, sunscreen, hat, and appropriate clothing for an all-day adventure in the sun. Call 432-364-2499 for reservations or more information. CDRI is located 4 miles south of Fort Davis on Hwy 118.

Pecos FD to hold “Fill the Boot” event

The Pecos Volunteer Fire Department will hold their annual “Fill the Boot” project, on Saturday at selected intersections in town.

Come out and support the Pecos Volunteer Firefighters by filling their boots and helping “Jerry’s Kids.”

All proceeds benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

For more information contact MDA-Midland at 432-570-4970.

CCRC plans elderly meals fundraiser

A Barbecue Plate Dinner will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Friday at the Community Council of Reeves County, 700 Daggett.

The event is sponsored by the Community Council of Reeves County and all proceeds will benefit the Elderly Meals Program.

Plates will be $5 and individuals can buy tickets from any CCRC personnel.

Deliveries will be made on five orders or more.

For orders call 447-4913.

OC scholarship fund matches sought

Pecos is meeting the challenge to match a grant from the Odessa College Foundation for student scholarships at the OC Pecos Center.

Scholarship drive leaders Bill Hubbs and Michelle Workman invite all Pecos citizens to help the Pecos Center meet this goal and make a positive difference in the education of our students.

The scholarship drive ends Tuesday, Aug. 31.

To make a contribution call Michelle Workman at 445-5535.

Shrine Circus plans Monday stop in Pecos

The Shriner’s Circus will be making its annual visit to Pecos this coming Monday at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

One show will be held on Aug. 30, beginning at 7 p.m. and tickets will be available on show day at the arena box office.

Ticket prices are for children, 12 years and under, $8 and adult tickets $10.

Everyone is invited to come and see the highwire act, elephants, tigers, dogs, BMX rider, Chinese acrobats and much more.

The event is sponsored by El Maida Shriners.

Tickets for both adults and children can be picked up at several locations in Pecos.

Proceeds are for the benefit of El Maida Shriners and are not deductible as charitable contributions.

New RCH doc follows father into medicine

Staff Writer

The newest doctor at Reeves County Hospital always knew he wanted follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician.

Dr. K.M.L.S.G. Moorthi grew up in India, watching his father practice medicine, and knew that he also wanted to become a doctor when he grew up.

“He is a physician in Indian and actually has a hospital there,” said Moorthi, who is board certified in internal medicine and nephrology, and began work officially last week as the physician in charge of the new kidney dialysis center at Reeves County Hospital. Dr. Moorthi first came to the United States in 1998. He attended school and did his residency in India and then came to the Midwest for another residency and fellowship, at the Northwestern University in Chicago.

Dr. Moorthi said that this dialysis center is different from the one in Chicago.

“That’s a huge hospital, but the equipment here is more modern, state of the art,” said Moorthi. “Northwestern is a teaching hospital,” he said.

The new dialysis center had it’s first patient about a week ago. “We started the first patient a week ago Monday and have 22 on the list,” said Moorthi.

The potential patients are from the surrounding area including Fort Stockton, Alpine, Marfa, Balmorhea and Barstow. Moorthi said that there are also a lot of potential patients from Pecos.

“We’re waiting for the Texas Department of Health to come and inspect us before we get our permanent license,” said Moorthi. “Right now, we’re operating with a temporary one.”

Along with overseeing the dialysis center, Dr. Moorthi also has a private office located across the street from the hospital at 2338 Texas St. He will focus primarily on nephrology and kidney disease.

“A lot of these patients are diabetics or have high blood pressure,” said Dr. Moorthi. He added that his office is not completely set up yet, but that individuals can call and make arrangements to see him as soon as everything is set up.

“Everything seems to be working really well, the equipment is brand new and state of the art and the staff is well-trained,” said Moorthi.

Moorthi said that he has been enjoying Pecos and is looking forward to his family joining him here. “Everyone is so friendly and so far I’ve been having fun,” he said.

Joining him will be his wife, Sinthanai and his 18-month old daughter, Thalir, who are still in Chicago.

Dr. Moorthi said that his father, a physician is still in India, along with a brother who is a lawyer.

“We try to visit, but it’s about 24 hours on an airplane, so we visit about every two years,” he said.

Moorthi added that he is very pleased with the reception he and the dialysis center has received.

“Everyone has done a great job of advertising this facility and the many benefits,” said Moorthi. “We had a lot of people during open house and have received a lot of good comments.”

The new dialysis center is equipped with 15 stations and about eight or 10 individuals can receive treatment at one time.

Dr. Moorthi’s main objective while in Pecos, “To provide excellent health care to the community and surrounding area.”

One jailed, one sought by police following drug raids

Two separate narcotics search warrants executed last week landed one individual in jail, while another arrest is pending.

On Tuesday, Aug. 17, officers with the Pecos Police Department executed a narcotics search at 713 W. Fourth St.

Once the residence was secured, officers proceeded to search the premises for narcotics or other drug related contraband, according to Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler. “During the search of the premises, officers found inside the house a substance believed to be cocaine,” said Deishler.

Also found inside the residence was a substance believed to be marijuana, though no other narcotics or paraphernalia were found following a complete search of the home. Michael Anthony Escajeda, 19, was charged with the offenses of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) and possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). “One more arrest is pending in reference to the suspected narcotics found inside the home,” said Deishler.

The second narcotics search warrant was served on Friday, Aug. 20, when officers executed the narcotics search warrant at 413 S. Mulberry St.

“Once the SWAT team had secured the residence, officers proceeded to search the premises,” said Deishler.

During the search of the southwest bedroom of the residence, a substance believed to be heroin was found inside the room.

Also found inside the southwest bedroom were various types of paraphernalia commonly used with the injecting, cooking and packaging of heroin, according to Deishler.

Officers completed their search of the premises and no other contraband was found inside the residence.

“Arrest warrants are currently pending for one of the subjects that resides at this address,” said Deishler.

County gets look at new voting machines

Staff Writer

Reeves County officials received a demonstration of the newest in voting equipment last week, in the second floor courtroom at the courthouse.

“We’ll need to purchase the new equipment by Jan. 1, 2006, in time for the primary elections,” said county clerk Dianne Florez.

She aid that everyone in the state will need to update their equipment by then, which includes 17 counties that are still using the punch card ballots that caused so much controversy in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

“I was hoping we’d have it by next year for the proposition elections,” said Florez. “That way we could familiarize ourselves with it.”

Florez said that the vendors will come in and demonstrate the machines, to give the public a chance to see the equipment and to get familiar with the system they will be using.

The presentation was made by Chet Noblett, vice-president of AccuPoll.

“This particular model does have a paper trail to it,” said Noblett.

With AccuPoll, a paper “provisional ballot” is automatically generated at the polling place as each voter casts his or her ballot. The provisional voter places the Proof of Vote into a “secrecy envelope” and then places the secrecy envelope into a Provisional Ballot Envelope.

The PBE manages the identification of the provisional voter separately from the provisional ballot, according to Noblett.

He demonstrated the equipment to several Reeves County Courthouse employees, commissioners and community members.

“After you have voted electronically, the voter can see who they voted for and drop that paper in the box,” said Noblett.

Noblett said that this equipment would also save time and money during run-off elections.

The machine is also equipped with an audio track and is in both Spanish and English. “At anytime you can go in and see your entire ballot,” he said.

HOVA is the state mandated and has federal funds to help procure the equipment, according to Noblett.

Federal grant to help Winkles out of Chapter 11

A local trucking company has received funding to restructure their operations and allow them to emerge from Chapter 11 filing.

USDA Rural Development, State Director, Bryan Daniel, announced that Winkles Trucks Inc. received a $4.5 million Business and Industry Guranteed loan.

USDA Rural Development is charged with assisting rural communities by administering programs targeted to strengthening the economy and infrastructure of rural areas.

“We are pleased to fund this project in Pecos,” said Daniel. “One of our goals is to provide access to credit for rural businesses that will bring new jobs to the area for local residents. We are proud that Rural Development programs play a role in President Bush’s plan to increase jobs which will continue the growth of the economy. This loan will help Pecos and the surrounding area to become a viable economic community in Reeves County,” he said.

Ken Winkles, of Winkles Trucking, said that basically, the funds would be used to restructure their debt and for future equipment services.

“This stems from our filing of Chapter 11 last year,” said Winkles. “When we filed, we were already in the process of working with USDA and through the Trans Pecos Banks we were able to secure this funding,” said Winkles.

Winkles said that they had received a reply at the end of July and funding on Aug. 3. Winkles said that this would help the company restructure and bring them out of Chapter 11.

UDA Rural Development guarantee funds will be used to refinance and expand trucking operations.

In Fiscal Year 2003, the USDA Rural Development Business Programs provided over $38 million dollars in guaranteed loan monies to 16 rural businesses throughout Texas. For more information regarding this and other USDA Rural Development programs and eligibility requirements, contact the Fort Stockton Local Office at 432-336-7585, Ext. 4. USDA Rural Development was created in 1994 and includes Business Programs, Housing Programs, and Community Programs. Its mission is to use the resources of USDA to provide an improved quality of life for the nation’s rural residents.

County office starts Conservation Reserve sign-up

A general Conservation Reserve Program sign-up will begin at the Reeves County Farm Service Agency office in Pecos next Monday, Aug. 30.

Carol Salinas, County Executive Director for Reeves County FSA explains that CRP Sign-up 29 is offered for those acres currently enrolled in CRP and set to expire September 30, 2004 or September 30, 2005. According to Ms. Salinas, eligible cropland never before enrolled in CRP will also be considered for enrollment under General CRP Sign-up 29.

“As further expansion to the CRP program, President Bush has announced a couple of new initiatives including a Bobwhite quail initiative and an expanded wetland program designed to enhance wetlands and playa lake areas,” said Ms. Salinas. “Provisions and eligibility guidelines for these and other new CRP components will be forthcoming as USDA works through the development process.”

Sign-up 29 comes as part of President Bush’s recent directive to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sustain the environmental benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), in light of the projected 16 million acres of CRP set to expire in 2007 and an additional six million acres to expire in 2008. In a continued effort to “restore, enhance and protect” environmentally sensitive land, build on producer stewardship and enhance wetland and wildlife acres, the president expressed his commitment to re-enrolling as many CRP acres as possible up to a maximum of 39.2 million acres nationwide.

“Producers and landowners need to understand that CRP Sign-up 29 is completely separate from potential ‘re-enrollment’ of acres expiring in 2007 and 2008,” said Ms. Salinas. “No provisions for these acres will be made until the 120-day public comment period has ended.”

Individuals interested in making public comment pertaining to managing the large number of acres set to expire in 3-4 years, managing future CRP sign-ups, evaluating the program’s environmental effectiveness or other related topics of concern can weigh-in on FSA’s website at . Comments on the issues must be received within 120 days after the date published in the Federal Register. Written comments should be mailed to Director, Conservation and Environmental Programs Division (CEPD), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Room 4714-S, Stop 0513, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20250-0513.

For more information regarding CRP Sign-up 29 or public comment on the future of CRP, contact the Reeves County FSA office at 432-445-3196, ext 2 or visit the USDA Web sites at .

Two killed, three hurt in I-10 crash near Balmorhea

Two persons were killed and two others remained in critical condition in a Lubbock hospital following a one-vehicle rollover early Friday morning west of Balmorhea.

According to the report filed by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the five persons involved in the accident included one adult, two teens and two pre-teens, and none were wearing seat belts when the accident occurred at 2:06 a.m. on Friday.

DPS trooper Arnulfo Rivas said the five were in a 1996 Chevrolet Blazer traveling westbound on I-10, 12.2 miles west of Balmorhea when the accident occurred. The driver of the vehicle, identified as Michael Garcia, 18, of Tucson, Ariz., apparently allowed the vehicle to drift off of the right side of the highway and overcorrected, sending the Blazer skidding across the westbound lanes and into the center median. The vehicle then overturned 2 1/2 times before coming to rest, with four of the five passengers being ejected from the vehicle.

Emergency medical crews from both Pecos and Balmorhea were called to the scene, along with Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco, who pronounced Sandra Tormas, 36, dead at the scene at 3:20 a.m. The other fatality was 12-year-old Emerald Tormas, who was pronounced dead by Carrasco at 3:30 a.m. Both bodies were taken to Peaceful Gardens Funeral Home.

Two others were flown by air ambulance to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock where they remained in critical condition over the weekend. They were Garcia, who Rivas said suffered a pelvic hip fracture, and Vanessa Tormas, 11, who suffered internal injuries in the accident. The fifth passenger, Jessie Murllo, was taken to Reeves County Hospital for treatment of shoulder and leg injuries.

Friday’s accident occurred just over a month and just over two miles west of where four persons were killed in July in a one-vehicle accident on Interstate 10. The dead in that accident included one adult and three children, including a 4-month-old baby.

Cebridge eyes ABC station replacement

Pecos cable viewers may be exchanging KMID-TV for WFAA or WKRN-TV by the middle of September, as part of Cebridge Connection’s effort to bring a watchable ABC network signal to Pecos.

The problem with the signal of Midland-Odessa’s KMID-TV was discussed earlier this month by the Town of Pecos City Council, which received a letter this week from Gary Pomonis, Cebridge’s Regional Business Analyst, about the status of that station and of problems over the years with KPEJ, the Fox Network station out of Midland-Odessa.

Pomonis also outlined a new problem that has cropped up with KRMA, the Denver-based PBS station that is seen in Pecos and other West Texas communities without access to a local PBS affiliate. However, he said that problem could be resolved in the near future with the acquisition of new digital receiving equipment.

KMID’s signal into Pecos has been unwatchable for most of the summer and of poor quality at other times of the year since the station lost access to a microwave relay to carry the signal to Pecos from north of Midland International Airport. Local residents voiced their complaints to the council in July, and on Aug. 5, Pomonis told the council work was underway to acquire a new ABC signal for the area after exchanging letters and e-mails with KMID’s general manager Chris Pruitt.

“Unfortunately, at this point, we do not expect KMID to commit to a viable solution by our deadline, and hence we are working on a parallel track to identify and secure the next-best option,” Pomonis wrote in his letter to the council.

Pruitt said last week his station was looking at several options towards getting a better signal into Pecos, and this morning Town of Pecos City Manager Joseph Torres said that former Reeves County Judge Mike Harrison talked to him about offering KIMD use of an antenna on the Anderson Ranch southwest of Kermit.

“It’s the old KPTX antenna. If they need a booster, he’s willing to give it to them,” Torres said.

Both Pomonis and Pete Abel with Cebridge said if no quick solution with KMID can be worked out, the preferred solution is to pick up the signal of WFAA, the Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate. That station is available via cable as far west as Big Spring, though Abel said company engineers were awaiting word from Cox Cable on how they are getting WFAA’s signal onto the Big Spring system.

“If they are using microwave, then it’s not a viable option, because to my knowledge there are no towers between Big Spring and Pecos,” Abel said. “If they have an available satellite signal it could be a viable solution for us.”

Nashville’s WKRN would be the alternate choice. Abel said that while picking up a station from 1,000 miles away wouldn’t be as good a solution as getting a station out of Dallas, “I think it could prove to be popular. They do provide all ABC programming and have a lot of country and western music because they are based in Nashville.”

Pruitt said last week that while he didn’t expect any quick answer to the signal problems for Cebridge customers in Pecos, KMID would soon be available for home satellite subscribers to Dish Network, as parent company EchoStar plans to beam the major Midland-Odessa TV stations to customers in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos. Abel said Cebridge can’t use the same signal, and said the company may lose some customers to satellite when the local stations become available. “A few customers may switch to satellite, but we making an honest attempt to deal with the situation, and I hope people will stay with us.”

Abel said KPEJ also has been notified of concerns with the signal of their translator station on Gomez Peak, though both he and Pomonis said the problem here would be easier to solve than the situation with KMID. Officials with KPEJ said they attempt to correct the problems with their signal as soon as they are notified by Cebridge or area customers, and after being out for the first week of August, KPEJ’s signal has generally been strong in the Pecos area over the past several weeks.

Abel said the only satellite option for Fox would be a station out of Denver, but Abel said doing that could create problems for Dallas Cowboy fans, since KPEJ will carry 10 of the team’s 16 regular season games this year.

Fox’s Denver affiliate carries only a few Denver Bronco games each year, but Abel said he did not know what games the station in Denver normally broadcasts during the NFL season.

The problem with Denver’s KRMA is new owners of the service that beams the station’s signal up to the satellite has change the technical specifications, and as a result a new receiving dish and digital receiver are required to pick up the PBS station.

“A new receiving dish and a digital receiver is a considerable expense, but we hope to rectify the situation as soon as possible,” Able said. He added that the problem not only affects Pecos, but about 30 other cable systems in West Texas that pick up KRMA’s signal,

Police probing weekend death of pedestrian

A Los Angeles man was killed and a Lubbock man injured Saturday evening, when they were struck by a pick-up on U.S. 285 on the south side of Pecos.

William Glenn Gions, 48, was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco at 8:50 p.m. Saturday, a little under two hours after police received the report that Gions and another man, 19-year-old Ronald Earl Lewis, were struck by a pickup headed north on U.S. 285 near the Quality Inn just north of the Interstate 20 overpass.

Pecos police said their report on the incident was not yet completed, but that the two were struck by a 2002 Chevrolet pickup driven by Johnny Mata Sandoval, 31, of Midland. The two were reportedly near the east side of the road when they were hit by Sandoval’s pick-up, which was headed north on U.S. 285.

Police investigator Kelly Davis said EMS crews worked on both victims at the scene, and Lewis was transported to Reeves County Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Davis said Gions’ girlfriend was one of the witnesses to the accident, but it was not yet determined how fast Sandoval’s vehicle was going when it struck the two men. The speed limit in the area is 45 mph.

The accident is the first pedestrian fatality in Pecos in almost two years, with the last one occurring in almost the exact same location as Saturday’s incident.

Hal Pratt, Sr., 61, was killed at the same site on Sept. 1, 2002, after he was struck by a pickup truck traveling southbound on U.S. 285 near the Quality Inn. That fatality happened at night, while Saturday’s pedestrian death occurred a little over an hour before sunset.

Higher valuations let RCH cut taxes, increase revenue

Staff Writer

The tax rate for the Reeves County Hospital District will be lower for the coming year but increased valuations in property values will put more money in the district's coffers despite the cut in taxes for county property owners.

The RCH Board of Directors met Monday night at the hospital to discuss the tax rate for the upcoming year as well as other hospital business.

According to RCH Tax Assessor Lydia Prieto the effective tax rate for the district is .32464, or about 33 cents for each $100 of a property's value.

The effective rate is the rate that, when combined with the latest property valuations, would put the same amount of money into a taxing entity's pocket as it had the year before.

This year's effective rate is about 5 cents lower than last year's rate because of an increase of $75 million in county valuations, primarily in oil and gas properties, Prieto said.

Monday night the board had to decide between adopting the effective rate and leaving the hospital's tax income at the same level as last year, or to adopt a higher rate to take in more tax revenue than it did last year.

Prieto told the board they could adopt a rate as high as .33437 without publishing a notice or holding a public hearing. This rate is known as the Notice and Hearing Limit Tax Rate.

She also said the board had the choice of adopting a rate equal to or less than the Rollback Tax Rate that Prieto said was .35855.

Prieto said that by adopting a rate higher than the rollback rate voters in the hospital district could petition for an election on the tax increase.

Rather than face a rollback election the board adopted the Rollback Tax Rate of .35855 -- the maximum tax rate allowed without the rollback election.

"This rate will keep the tax rate at a level we could live with in the future when valuations drop," hospital Administrator Bill Conder said. "But it is still an effective decrease of three percent for the tax payers."

Conder said that the Board would publish the adopted rate in the Pecos Enterprise in the coming weeks as well has hold a public hearing on the matter on September 16.

The board is scheduled to approve the rate at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday evening, September 30.

In other business the board approved the sale of two properties that were previously confiscated for back taxes.

They approved the sale of trailer house and lot at 10022 E. 5th Street for $500 plus the taxes owed on the property, as well as the sale of a vacant lot 717 South Ash Street for $100 and the taxes owed.

The board also declared a long list of used office furniture and medical equipment surplus so that it could be auctioned.

"The hospital has a warehouse where we have been collecting old furniture and equipment for 15 or 20 years," Conder said. "We pay $250 each month in rent plus insurance and its useless to the hospital."

Conder said that the items had to be declared surplus before it could be sold.

Board President Linda Gholson said that the Board would also nominate someone to take over Precinct 3 board member Bill Wendt's position left open by Wendt's death last week.

Gholson said that the board would appoint someone to fill the position until the next election.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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