City approves service rate hikes

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis City Commission approved recommendations Thursday that could generate upwards of $700,000 toward raises for city employees.

The commission approved the recommendations of the city’s revenue review committee, which include a hike in some city services and the transfer of funds earmarked for drainage to the general fund.

Following the enactment of the police department’s pay raise in the fall, some city employees vocalized that they too deserved a raise.

A revenue review committee was formed in the fall to scour the city’s budget for additional sources of revenues in order to fund a pay raise for city employees.

In April, City Manager Joe Thomas proposed a plan in which city employees would receive an additional 25¢ per hour for cost of living allowance and 16¢ per hour for every year they have held the same position. Those numbers would be prorated (18¢ and 11¢ respectively) for the fire department personnel, Thomas said at the April meeting.

The total cost of the pay package was $1.1 million.

Thomas said Thursday he would be reviewing the pay package for city employees and would introduce it at a later meeting.

Rate increases on city services — such as hangar fees, police department private security fees, golf course fees and park rental fees — will generate some of the money.

According to city documents, the largest share of the money, about $560,000, will be available by rededicating 1 1/2 mills of property tax to the general fund, and $140,000 from the police and fire capital outlay fund.

The revenue review committee also recommended a 30-percent hike on sewer connections.

However, Commissioner Isidro Garcia, who chaired the revenue review committee, said the sewer rate hike was too high. Commissioner Robert Sandoval agreed.

“This is something that the consumer has absolutely no control over whatsoever,” Sandoval said. “… you have to flush your toilet.”

The commission amended the proposal, and dropped the hike from 30 percent to 20 percent, or by about 10¢ per drain, per month.

The rate on sewer connections has not been increased in 10 years, commissioners said. Mayor David Lansford underscored that point, saying that the actual increase represents a 2 percent increase per year.

Public Works Director Harry Wang said the actual increase needed was about 60 percent.

At the 20 percent level, the city would generate an extra $300,000 per year, down from $450,000 at the 30 percent level proposed by the committee. The commission will vote on the amended proposal at a future meeting.

Also at the meeting:
•The commission adopted a resolution supporting the “Keep Cannon” initiative. Thomas said many municipalities in the state and some in Texas are showing a willingness to pass similar resolutions. The resolution authorizes the governing body of Clovis to “exert whatever means and energy is necessary to obtain the removal of Cannon Air Force Base from the BRAC closure list …”

• Kathy Wright, of New Mexico-American Water, outlined their summer initiative called “Be Water Wise,” which will include mailings, advertisements and other means to encourage eastern New Mexico water users to conserve water during the summer months.

• The commission approved transfer of a liquor license from The Roosevelt in Portales to a new Applebee’s Grill and Bar to be located in Clovis.