Group: Petition has enough signatures to force special election

Kevin Wilson

The High Plains Patriots said they have enough signatures to force a special election on a .25 percent gross receipts tax hike.

The citizens group plans to bring the city signatures on Monday, the deadline day established after the Clovis City Commission approved the GRT increase in its Feb. 3 meeting.

The group needs at least 456 signatures to force a special election.

“I don’t have a total count,” HPP President Kim Runyan said. “I know we have somewhere around 600 signatures.”

Signatures, she said, will be accepted on the petition until Monday at or at numerous business around the city.

“We want as many as we can get,” Runyan said. “We’ve got a strong response about this, from both sides.”

If signatures are verified, an election on the commission’s decision must be held within 60 days of the submission of petitions — on or before May 6.

According to the city charter, the ballot must contain the text of the ordinance in question, with the choices “For the above measure” or “Against the above measure.”

Clovis’ current GRT rate is 7.5625 percent, and would jump to 7.8125 percent on July 1 under the ordinance. The ordinance is set to expire 10 years later, and the increase in taxes would provide about $1.5 million annually to help pay for a $13 million portion of the city’s financial obligation for the $500 million Ute Water Project. The city’s total obligation is $36 million, but the remainder would be made up by water sales.

Signatures must come from registered voters inside Clovis city limits, and the name and address on the petition must match voter registration records.

City Clerk LeighAnn Melancon said she would verify the signatures when they were turned in. She has never done a verification process before, so isn’t sure on a time-frame for completion.

“You’ll know (how long it takes) when I’m done,” Melancon said with a laugh.

Previous petitions have been handled by Curry County, which holds county voter registration records.

The gross receipts tax ordinance passed by a 7-1 vote with Commissioner Randy Crowder voting against.

Crowder said he supports the project, but not raising taxes, and contends the project can be paid for by shuffling upcoming expiring taxes.