Writer remembers past city cashier

By Don McAlavy: Local Columnist

Back in 1989 a tribute by CNJ staff writer Todd S. Bergmann was printed in the Clovis News Journal about Bert Cabiness, who they called the city cashier. That tribute has been edited and follows.

While most people do not enjoy parting with their money, they enjoyed meeting Bert Cabiness. They said she made the parting with money a little less painful.

“All the money the city takes in comes through me,” Cabiness said. “I validate bills and give receipts.”

For more than 20 years, she took care of handling the money from the city’s zoo, swimming pool, library fines, sewer and trash collection bills, as well as for various permits.

The state collects gross receipts tax from businesses and apportions it among several government entities including the city of Clovis. When the city gets the money, she apportioned it among several city funds.

The fiscal day for Cabiness began at 1 p.m. In the afternoon she collected money from people who came to her window at city hall to pay bills and pay for permits.

She stayed in the office to 5 p.m. When she went home the money was kept overnight in the vault. During the night people dropped payments into a slot in the city hall wall directly into her office.

The city had 50 separate funds, each of which could have 65 accounts among the banks in town. Another city employee took the money to the banks after Cabiness prepared her daily deposit.

Her job involved more than collecting funds. She appointed election judges and clerks, handled the petty cash fund, changed names and addresses on billing accounts, and helped other people in city hall when they needed it.

“The people,” she said, “is the best part of my job.” She liked to work with the city hall staff and the public who come in.

The biggest change in the operation she said was the installation of a computer in her office.

“This computer tells me any information about an account,” she said. “We used to dig through stacks of cards in the backroom.”

Her supervisors praised her work. Then City Manager Don Clifton said, “She is very dedicated and she gets along well with everybody here and the public. The cash always balances right to the penny.”

When she wasn’t handling money for the city, she enjoyed her family and politics. Bob and Bert Cabiness had a son, Mike, daughter-in-law, Janet, and granddaughter Ashley who lived in Fort Worth, Texas. “My granddaughter, she is my pride,” Bert Cabiness said.

Albertina “Bert” Trujillo was born 1925, one of 14 children of Joe and Necolasita Trujillo. She worshipped her grandfather, Seledon Trujillo, a famous man around Fort Sumner.