Resident decries hike in services

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

The quality of services is not worthy of the costs charged by the city for those services, Tucumcari resident Tony McNeil told city commissioners at their meeting on Thursday.

McNeil said he moved to Tucumcari a few years ago and that he was trying to clean up his place.

“You used to get a free load once a month (at the landfill). Now, you have to pay for the landfill and there is an increased garbage rate.” he said.

McNeil also said, the costs of water and an additional charge for sewage is now being added to bills.

“There’s been an increase and now (we) get uranium with our water. We are paying for things we don’t need and don’t want,” said McNeil, who also said he lives on a fixed income.

“I understand prices go up,” McNeil said. “But each time you raise the price, there’s a drop in the quality of service.”

Commissioner Jim Witcher said the city’s costs have risen and it’s been necessary to increase rates.

Regarding uranium in the water, Witcher said, “Our water did not change, the percentage allowed in the regulations changed.”

Commissioner Jim Lafferty said the city’s rates had been based for some time on a population of 8,000. Now, however, the population has dropped to 6,000 and it’s been necessary to increase the rates to cover those services as well as increases in prices, he said.

City manager Richard Primrose said the city was trying to manage the costs of maintaining its current landfill as well as working to get a new landfill.
The commission took no action on McNeil’s complaint. Witcher told McNeil that he should feel free to contact any of the commissioners or staff at City Hall to further discuss his concerns.

In other business before the commission:

• The city received and approved acceptance of a loan for $265,470 from the New Mexico Finance Authority to defray costs of renovating the Tucumcari pool. Doug Powers, director of the city’s Community Development department, said pool work was moving as scheduled and that it should open on May 1, 2007.

• Awarded an eight-month contract to Tucumcari Janitorial Service for the custodial care of its five buildings. The custodian who was performing those duties is being transferred to the city’s Streets Department, where there are vacancies because of attrition. Primrose said the service contract should save the city money. The city will not have to provide a vehicle and the service’s contract also includes supplies, he said.

Covered under the contract are Tucumcari’s City Hall, Community Development, Police Department, Public Library and Senior Center buildings.
The monthly payment will be $3,676.

• Approved a bid for fencing supplies for eventual construction of fences around the city’s new water tank and eight wells, as well as water tanks at Logan and San Jon. Powers said a $63,000 grant was part of the Homeland Security program to protect water supplies. The work at Logan and San Jon is because the city serves as the agent for the county’s emergency manager, Mike Cherry. The next step will be to contract for the installation of the fencing, Powers said.

• Mayor Mary Mayfield declared Monday World Food Day, which recognizes efforts to education about and to alleviate hunger in New Mexico.

• An award was presented to computer instructor Maria Thornton-Rodriguez for her dedication in teaching computer classes to senior citizens without pay. Director of the library, Mary Ann Molinas, said, “This class was started with a grant and was supposed to be for a year. But, because the requirements changed, we lost the grant.”

Thornton-Rodriguez has given her time to teach six-week classes for 10 and will be teaching another class for seniors which starts today, Molinas said.
Molinas said, “I really do appreciate her doing this for our senior citizens, and they really seem to have learned alot.”