Town hall announced on gross receipts tax hike

Kevin Wilson

What started as opposition to a tax increase morphed into support Thursday from one Clovis resident.

But opposition to a proposed zoning change from a neighborhood of others remained solid.

The Clovis City Commission dealt with proposed zone changes, and announced a town hall on a possible gross receipts tax hike, during its regular meeting.

Don Spradlin of Clovis said he heard about the introduction of an ordinance to raise the gross receipts tax by 0.25 percent to help pay for Clovis’ financial responsibility for the Ute Water Project.

“I’ve been a skeptic of this for a long time,” Spradlin said.

Spradlin said he looked for answers, from calling the Interstate Streams Commission to city officials, and said he’s actually come around to support the project, which would move water through a pipeline from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County to Clovis and other municipalities.

He implored the city find ways to get out the word about a town hall meeting regarding the ordinance.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

“We’re going to try to get people involved with the project,” Mayor Gayla Brumfield said. “We’ll tell everyone what’s been spent, what needs to be spent and where we are with the project.”

The city’s current gross receipts tax is 7.5625 percent, and would jump to 7.8125 percent on July 1 if the ordinance is approved.

The ordinance was introduced at the last commission meeting, two weeks prior. It can be voted on as early as the next commission meeting Feb. 3.

Most of the approximately 40 residents, however, were on hand to discuss a proposed zone change on the 600 and 700 blocks of Forest Park Drive from a neighborhood conservation livestock district to a mixed development.

Residents said they were concerned a commercial business would come in, and the resulting traffic would deteriorate their roads and impede on the neighborhood.

Laura Martin and Linda Whitaker, who both lived near the zone, said they would have no problem with more residential homes.

Arno Massey, who applied for the zone change, said he had no intention of bringing a business in and the change was required to accommodate some types of homes.

Jack Bell said he had never met Massey and had nothing against him, but he was concerned that somebody who purchases the property from Massey might have different intentions.

“We’ve lived out there for 20 years,” Bell said. “The reason we live out there is it’s a nice, quiet neighborhood. I can think of about a million things I wouldn’t want there.”

Commissioner Fred Van Soelen noted the planning and zoning committee voted unanimously to deny the zone change, and he felt overwhelming evidence hadn’t been presented that would make him overrule the committee.

The city also voted it down by a 7-0 count.

Action taken Thursday by the Clovis City Commission:

• Tabled a request to change 724 W. 19th Street from a residential zone to a mixed development zone.

The planning and zoning committee had approved the change, but City Attorney David Richards said city practice is to generally avoid single-address zone changes.

The time will allow city staff to work with the property owner on the proper course of action.

• Voted to introduce an ordinance adding the release of water onto certain public roadways to the category of “public nuisance.”

City Engineer Justin Howalt said the city has spent about $2,600 in the last few months on service calls for ice on roadways, even though there was not enough precipitation to create such situations.

The reason, Howalt said, is a few businesses were dumping excess water onto the street, which creates concerns in the winter months. He’d written nine letters to businesses; so far, two have written back noting they weren’t aware of what they were doing and would stop it.

But without the ordinance, Howalt said, there is no enforcement tool.

“Our main concern is not about residential neighborhoods,” Howalt said. “It’s about arterial roads, with higher speeds and more people traveling.”

• The Clovis Fire Department added three lieutenant positions to cover Fire Station No. 6 at 21st and Main streets. The department aims to begin operations at the station on Sunday.

Chief Ray Westerman said the measure would not add new personnel, but would promote current personnel in line with station requirements. With the new station and renovations at the airport station, the department could gain $100,000 in federal funding, which would offset the $14,500 needed to cover the salary bumps.