Officials: Income tax rebate hearing formality

Kevin Wilson

A public hearing on establishing a low-income tax rebate scheduled for a Tuesday Curry County Commission meeting is nothing more than a formality, according to county officials.

Treasurer Bernice Baker said the only thing the rebate would change is the county would be required to reimburse the state for rebates already available to taxpayers when they file their state taxes.

“We would be subsidizing the state, I think it has the potential to cost us a lot of money,” she said, explaining there county relies heavily on property tax for revenue.

Baker said an anticipated 2010 property tax revenue of $15.5 million, of which $9.1 million has been collected to-date, feeds the county’s $11.7 million operating budget.

She said she is prepared to tell commissioners she is opposed to the ordinance when it is addressed Tuesday.

County Attorney Steve Doerr said the county is required by state law to hold a public hearing and to review and consider the statute as an ordinance every other year.

Based on research he has done, Doerr said only one county in the state — Las Alamos County — has adopted the ordinance and in the past, Curry County declined.

The special meeting was set by commissioners after adopting a resolution Jan. 13 to hold regular meetings only once a month.

Though the county follows Clovis Municipal School’s inclement weather policy, on Monday a county official said the meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in the commission room at the courthouse, regardless of weather conditions.

Forecasts for the area have predicted 2 to 5 inches of snow in the area between Monday and Wednesday.

According to a meeting agenda, commissioners will also consider extending a deadline for two citizen committees created to study jail and courthouse issues. County Manager Lance Pyle is expected to request an April 19 extension of the committee deadlines.

The committees were formed by the commission in response to a 73-27 percent voter rejection of two bond issues aimed at building a new jail and courthouse .

Since their formation in December, more than half of the committees’ 15 original volunteer members have resigned, citing concerns about lack of transparency and possible steering by the commission.

Committee members have also complained the original deadline of March 15 did not offer them enough time to thoroughly study the issues and present recommendations.

Pyle is also expected to ask commission support in re-negotiating a joint powers agreement with the City of Clovis in an effort to re-evaluate the amount Clovis pays the county for the housing of inmates charged by city officers.

Under the existing agreement signed in 2008, the city is required to pay $9,538 per month through June 2014, at which point the amount increases to $10,833 per month.

In a draft letter to Mayor Gayla Brumfield — a copy of which was provided in commissioners’ meeting packets — Pyle cited increasing costs associated with housing inmates as reason for re-opening the contract for negotiations.

In other business, commissioners are expected to:

• Hear a report from Sandy Chancey on the Eastern Plains Council of Governments.

• Give notice of intent to introduce an ordinance regulating fires and burning.

• Consider a request by the Village of Grady to apply for a planning grant for a proposed road connecting Cannon Air Force Base to Grady.

• Consider a request from jail Administrator Keith Norwood to relocate surveillance cameras in the facility and to replace some cameras that have aged or are failing.

• Hear a presentation from County Finance Manager Mark Lansford on the county’s second quarter financial report.