GRT increase needed for future

In 1964, the Interstate Stream Commission created the Ute Reservoir to provide a future sustainable water supply for the residents of eastern New Mexico.

Like other municipalities and counties in the area, the city of Clovis has a reservation for water from Ute Reservoir and, as the Ogallala Aquifer beneath Clovis continues to diminish, has been working extremely hard to ensure residents with a secure water source for us and for future generations.

The cost of this $500 million water pipeline will be borne by the federal government (75 percent), the State of New Mexico (15 percent) and the municipalities/counties receiving the water (10 percent).

In 2009, the federal government authorized the project and since that time the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority has been working hard for financial appropriation at the federal level.

Clovis’ portion of the Ute Pipeline Project is approximately $36 million. In 2004, Clovis residents approved a quarter percent gross receipts tax, a portion of which was designated to the Ute Pipeline project. The remainder goes to streets, fire, police and drainage. Since that time, $835,509 of this quarter percent has been spent on pipeline related activities such as grant matches for the state funding we have received for the pipeline design, and member contributions.

During the 2009 state Legislature, the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority was created to oversee the construction and management of the pipeline. In the spring of 2011 they plan to break ground on the intake structure for the pipeline at Ute Reservoir. A financial plan, which indicates the contributions needed for each municipality, has been approved; Clovis’ share is $13.1 million by 2018. In order for Clovis to meet this obligation, it is necessary that we implement a quarter percent gross receipts tax increase now, which will generate approximately $1.55 million a year between now and 2018. For the Clovis taxpayer this amounts to an additional 25 cents on every $100 spent.

Due to the poor quality and quantity of the water beneath the Ogallala Aquifer that has been researched by New Mexico American, there are no other alternatives than to go forward with the Ute Pipeline. New Mexico American conducted deep well testing into the Lower Dockum Formation, which revealed the water source was insufficient in quality and quantity. The availability of the water in the Ogallala continues to diminish and I cannot overstate the need to move forward with the pipeline project as soon as possible.

The Clovis City Commission could either spend more than $35,000 of taxpayer’s money on election costs to find out whether residents approve Clovis funding a quarter percent gross receipts tax allocation for the pipeline project, or they can vote to do so themselves without an election as this quarter percent does not require an election.

The public knows the vital importance of ensuring we have water every day we turn the tap on, and the impact the availability of water has on our economy, from the value of our homes to the availability of jobs.

The public has elected a tremendous team of trustworthy and highly competent commissioners to represent them, who unanimously support the pipeline project as the city’s priority.

We all know it is vital to move forward with funding our initial commitment for the Ute Pipeline project now because it is vital that we provide water to Clovis, and we cannot delay in doing so.

A copy of the Clovis’ portion of the financial plan and what has been spent to date in on the city’s website at www.cityofclovis.org. If you have any questions or comments about this project or the proposed quarter percent, please call me.