The Arch Hurley Conservancy District Board of Directors voted Tuesday to increase assessment fees to counter the rise of district maintenance costs.
“This is something nobody wanted to do, but we had little choice,” District Manager Franklin McCasland said.
A resolution was introduced and passed during Tuesday’s monthly meeting, increasing the 2012 Class-A land assessment fee from $10 to $12 per acre.
McCasland said the increase is necessary to cover the cost of maintaining the irrigation system which delivers water from Conchas Lake to the district members.
“Those costs include ditch maintenance, labor, increases in insurance coverage and fuel and equipment upkeep,” McCasland said.
McCasland said the assessment fee had not been increased since 2005. He said in previous years the assessment had been as high as $15.
“The assessment is a tax,” McCasland said. “The tax is used to maintain the system, so when there is water to be released from Conchas it can be delivered to the members.”
Members of the district said they understand the need to maintain the system. However, they question the cost being placed on them.
“This is a tax for a service we are not getting,” said district member Jimmy Speed. “They are increasing the money we are paying for the water we are not getting.”
Speed said $2 per acre is not so bad, but when it is placed on top of the $10 fee already in place, it hurts those farmers who have not been able to grow because there has been no water.
“This is a tax, which if not paid, it could result on a lein on your land,” Speed said.
District member Christina Fleming sent a letter to the board of directors addressing the proposed increase of assessments. She suggested instead of a fee increase, Arch Hurley should look at cutbacks, shortening the work week, reducing hours and, if necessary, layoffs.
“There is a shortfall in their budget and they want us to pay for it,” Fleming said.
Fleming said she and many other district members have had no income generated from their farms because there has been no water allocated.