Commission approves $7 million in bonds for wastewater plant

Kevin Wilson

The Clovis City Commission approved $7 million in wastewater treatment plant bonds in short order, and support for the Clovis Area Transport Service in slightly longer order, on Thursday evening.

The two items drew the longest discussion at the commission’s regular meeting. Other items, with the exception of a filter replacement at the Clovis Aquatic Center, drew little discussion.

Kevin Powers of RBC Capital Markets in Albuquerque told commissioners that four bidders responded when the $7 million bond — which will be used for sewer and treatment plant expansions and improvements — was made available.

The top bidder offered a rate of 3.36 percent, which Powers said was comparable with a 2005 bond for the Curry County Event Center.

Commissioner Randy Crowder said he wasn’t about to turn down such a low interest rate — and commissioners agreed, voting 7-0 in favor. But he asked Powers if it was above the board to sell the bids before the commission met. Powers said bidders knew any deal would be pending city approval, and would likely be finalized Friday at the earliest.

“It’s a very common practice in the industry,” Powers said. “The bids they submitted at 11 o’clock, they are committed to.”

Crowder showed lone opposition later, when the CATS public transportation program sought support for a grant application. Director Mary Lou Kemp said she was submitting a request for $616,000, with the city responsible for a separate $364,000.

Kemp’s grant application included a $100,000 request to cover dispatch software and the hiring of a part-time janitor and groundskeeper.

Crowder said he thought Kemp did a great job with CATS, but he was concerned that public transportation is inefficient and he rarely sees a CATS van with more than the driver and one passenger. He didn’t like the idea of growing government or subsidizing services a cab company could offer.

He was the lone dissenter in the 6-1 vote. Mayor Gayla Brumfield — who does not vote unless a tiebreaker is required — said she understood Crowder’s point, but noted that the Clovis Municipal Airport offers many services and does many upgrades only through federal subsidies.

Mayor Pro Tem Vohs said the service CATS provides makes it a “necessary evil” and that he wasn’t sure a private cab service could offer what CATS does.

Commissioner Fred Van Soelen asked Kemp where the organization was on a fixed route system, which would increase efficiency compared to the “call in advance” system. She said the process was stagnant because requests for additional employees to facilitate the fixed route system were declined.

The city also approved a new sand filter for the Clovis Aquatic Center, replacing the filter that burst two months ago. Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said a city welder patched the filter.

“It’s fixed right now,” Bizzell said, “but it’s a short-term fix.”

The $74,000 budget change will facilitate a new fiberglass filter and a 2-foot extension to the filter room to accommodate the filter.