Lawmakers expect OK from governor on capital outlay

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Usually, Brian Moore jokes, the only way a 30-day state legislative session is better than a 60-day session is that he’s home earlier.

“This was a crazy session,” the District 67 representative said. “Trying to cram it all in 30 days is just insane.”

The session resulted in $1.9 million in potential capital outlay dollars to Quay County that would serve the county, its cities and Mesalands Community College.

Both Moore, R-Clayton, and District 7 Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, said cooperation was a big part of maximizing funds for the area.

“What I was really pleased with was the timing with respect to the way Rep. Moore and I were able to work together in the counties we share (Quay, Harding and Union Counties),” Harden said. “We were able to meet on at least three different locations, and maximize the dollars that might be available.”

With huge windfalls from oil and gas money, the legislators worked to secure the one-time funds for projects that local representatives said they needed.

The projects have not been finalized, and Gov. Bill Richardson has a line-item veto to cut any program he sees fit. Moore thinks the governor will spare most of Quay County’s projects.

“He’s got good feelings about Quay County and the northern parts of the state,” Moore said. “He told me he didn’t have much heartburn with the things on our list.”

Before the session began, city and county entities were asked to provide their top legislative priorities. Quay County Manager Terry Turner said the county’s top three priorities were for the agricultural education building, renovation funds for county buildings and a rock crusher to make caliche for roads.

For those purposes, the county got capital outlay requests worth $400,000 for the ag center. Turner said he would have liked more funding for the county buildings, but said officials are lucky to get half of their requests.

“There’s always disappointment because you never get everything you ask for,” Turner said. “Rep. Moore has indicated we may have to stretch what we were awarded last year for our county buildings.”

Mesalands Community College received $50,000 to go towards a wind research training center. It had asked for much more, including:

• $130,460 to expand and renovate its dinosaur museum,

• $1.25 million for a new student dormitory,

• $198,000 for improvements to the MCC rodeo facility, and

• $15 million in two bills to build a wind research training center ($12.5 million) and purchase a wind turbine ($2.5 million).

During the Feb. 14 board of trustees meeting, MCC President Phillip Barry said the price tag looks big for the wind-training center, but said the school couldn’t expect a for-profit wind plant to interrupt its power collection for students to study.

Also, Barry said he imagined that buying a used or reconditioned turbine might require more money in eventual repairs than it would save.

The city had four main priorities, according to City Manager Richard Primrose: The landfill, the city swimming pool, the wastewater system and sidewalks along the north side of Maple Street.

The city received $400,000 for the landfill, $100,000 for the swimming pool and $250,000 for improvements to the city wastewater system.

Primrose was pleased with the amount set for the city.

“I think Rep. Moore and Sen. Harden do a really good job for the City of Tucumcari and Quay County,” Primrose said. “They basically met our top three priorities.”

Primrose said the money for the pool would be used for a new water pump, filter system, plumbing, a covering and heating. The landfill money is associated with the costs of clearing out land, digging a new hole and adding a liner.

Moore said he was disappointed the wastewater system got a small amount when there was such a huge windfall for capital outlay, but said it’s tough to criticize anybody else’s requests.

Like Moore, Harden doesn’t think Richardson will cut too many programs regarding Quay County.

“In order to shave the budget (by vetoing) the one-time expenses, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Harden said. “It’s the reoccurring money that matters to the state government.”

Other projects for Quay County included $100,000 for Logan’s sewer system, $300,000 for San Jon’s wastewater system and $50,000 to go towards heating and air conditioning at the House Senior Center.