Commissioners table financial relief request

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Clovis city commissioners are looking for a way for a slogan to circumvent a clause.

That’s why, at an otherwise brief regular meeting Thursday, the group opted to table a request from a resident who sought financial relief for a building he recently tore down.

Junior Dallas of Clovis owns Dallas Rentals. He recently decided to demolish a building he owned on 501 Pile Street after a November fire damaged it to the point that demolition was cheaper than bringing it up to code — and it wasn’t covered by insurance due to a technicality.

Dallas told the commission he always hears the slogan “Beautify Clovis” and he tried to do his part by taking down a building that would have been an eyesore.

“501 Pile’s had three murders in it,” Dallas said. “It’s had drugs in it. When I got possession of it, I found some of my stolen tools.”

The result of the demolition was more than 500 tons of rubble going to the city landfill — a bill of $15,578, based on the city’s charges of $26 per ton plus gross receipt taxes. Dallas said he was hoping to get some help, since he incurred personal cost to tear down the building when he could have boarded the building up and abdicated ownership responsibilities.

Commissioners were sympathetic, but City Attorney David Richards said giving Dallas a discount would violate the state’s anti-donation clause.

Article 9, Section 14 of the New Mexico State Constitution says no municipality “shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation.”

Richards said concession made to all citizens, like waiving landfill fees on the weekend of a city trash pickup event, are fine, but a cut fees for an individual would constitute a donation to Dallas.

Commissioner Len Vohs asked if the city had donated to people earlier in the year when it granted tax reductions to people who bought land at an estate auction without realizing standing tax liens. Richards said in those cases, those were financial decisions based on the real-world knowledge the city wouldn’t receive the full lien amounts.

City Manager Joe Thomas said based on a volume-based calculation of $58.50 per truckload, the cost to Dallas could be reduced to $3,010.07. However, Thomas also noted in the agenda, he gave the item a “city manager recommends denial of request” designation.

“If you elect to do this,” Thomas said, “you would certainly be establishing a precedent.”

Mayor Gayla Brumfield said she’s hopeful a solution can be found before the next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 7.

“Common sense tells me people would just board their buildings up, and it’s going to be more costly (to the city),” she said.