Taxes, water highlight ACI Issues Roundtable

By Gary Mitchell

The shortage of physicians, the depletion of water resources and the need for better roads topped the list of concerns during the annual ACI Issues Roundtable breakfast Friday at the Clovis Holiday Inn.
Approximately 30 business and community leaders attended the event, sponsored by the Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI) and co-hosted by the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s a doctor shortage in the state,” Clovis Mayor David Lansford said. “There’s no question about that — and even more so in the rural areas of the state. We need to be able to attract more doctors to the area.”
Lansford, speaking for his table of participants, said his group advocated “a state tax-incentive package” for doctors coming into the state to set up practice.
J.D. Bullington, vice-president of government affairs for ACI, said ACI officials will make 24 trips throughout the state for community and business leaders’ input.
“We want to hear from you what the issues are that concern and affect you,” he told the Clovis group. “This is a very important meeting for us. This is your opportunity to tell us what your needs are, what your issues and interests are.”
Kathy Wright, vice-president and manager of New Mexico-American Water Co., served as spokeswoman for her group and the top concern was no surprise.
“One of the first things on our list was water management,” she said. “We need some sort of agreement with Texas because they’re drawing from the same aquifer we are.”
New Mexico-American, the city’s water supplier, asked residents last week to voluntarily conserve water because the company could not keep up with water demands during a dry, hot July in which there was no measurable rain during what is normally one of the wettest months in the area. New New-American reported last week that its above-ground water storage tanks were half full.
The company and city officials called it a short-term crisis and New Mexico-American plans to add additional wells and storage in the next two years.
Other key issues identified by the Clovis leaders included: workforce training programs; greater funding for the MainStreet program; additional funding for roads in the area (including Prince Street, West Seventh Street and the railroad overpass on State Road 467); more facts concerning the tapping into the state’s permanent fund; and concerns about air service for the state’s smaller communities.