Commissioners dig deep for charity

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

Clovis Mayor David Lansford and commissioners opted to open their wallets and pool a wad of cash rather than spend public money at Thursday’s city commission meeting.

Rebecca Holt of the Curry County Relay for Life asked commissioners to waive the $485 fee and provide Ned Houk Park with bleacher and stage equipment for the annual three-day event in May that serves as an American Cancer Society fund-raiser.

With Lansford casting the deciding vote to break a 4-4 tie, the commission opposed waiving the city’s fee to avoid setting a precedent, squashing Holt’s request.

The commissioners donated $786.

“We’ll have a lot of people challenging fees,” said Mayor Pro Tem Randal S. Crowder, who opposed the fee waiver, but made a donation.

The commission voted to stop waiving fees about six months ago, upon recommendation from the revenue review committee. Fee waivers had become so common that the point of charging fees was unclear, said Commissioner Fred Van Soelen.

Relay for Life had used the park without a fee for 10 years, and the fee to use the park was raised last year, Van Soelen said.

He voted against waiving the fee, but reached into his pocket and made a monetary contribution.

“Public money shouldn’t be given away,” Crowder said, adding, “it’s not my money.”

But Commissioner Robert Sandoval voted to waive the fee, saying the event should qualify as an exemption rather than a precedent.

“We must be the good stewards of taxpayer money,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval questioned why the city would vote to approve a $1,500 camera for the roundabout, but not approve a fee waiver for the Relay for Life event.

Other city commission business included:

• Commissioners approved a resolution for a 30-day ban on certain types of fireworks and their use because of extreme drought conditions.

Clovis Fire Department Chief Ray Westerman told commissioners fireworks can be dangerous and a fire hazard, even under less dry conditions.

Commissioner Robert Sandoval motioned for a vote, saying, “I think this is a no brainer.”

• Commissioners reviewed the monthly investment report. There is more than $4 million in the bank. And the city last month earned $36,000 in interest on investments.

• Commissioners unanimously voted to adjust the lot lines for health care facility that will be built on 20,604 acres of land, at 2735 Fairview Industrial Parkway.

• Four city of Clovis Animal Control workers received plaques from Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher for helping round up cats recently from a home.