Commissioners discuss redistricting, water rates

Thomas Garcia

Tucumcari city commission held a public hearing for residents to review and discuss the municipal redistricting proposed by Southwest Political Services.

Sterling Fluharty, owner of the Albuquerque based Southwest Political Services, presented three redistricting options.

“I want to take the time to tell the public and commission the difference in the concepts and the thought process behind them,” Fluharty said.

Fluharty started with Concept Map A, which he said achieves population equality while minimizing changes to the existing districts.

“Concept B is geared towards equalizing the Hispanic demographic across the entire community,” Fluharty said.

Fluharty said Concept C was designed to bring communities and voters with similar voting tendencies and interest together.

“I like Concept A,” said commissioner Antionio Apodaca. “It equalizes the population while maintaining most of the original district.

Fluharty said in all three concepts the incumbents remained in their districts.

“We will further study these concepts and vote on one at the Dec. 8 commission meeting,” Mayor Jim Witcher said.

The commission moved on to discuss water rate increases which had been brought to their attention by concerned citizens at previous meetings.

“I did not agree with the utility increase and did not vote to approve the budget,” Apodaca said.

Apodaca said the commission should restore the previous use of 3,000 gallons before additional charges. He said currently the level has been set at 2,000 gallons.

“I think the change from 3,000 to 2,000 is one of the causes for concern and surprises in the change in the bills of consumers,” Apodaca said.

Apodaca said the current percent increase of 30 percent should be changed. He said residents should be set at 10 percent and commercial at 20 percent.

“The new rates are wrong,” said Commissioner Robert Lumpkin.

Lumpkin said the new bill format had a mushroom effect, in the way if affected residents.

“We need to lower the percentage to 10 or 10.9 percent,” Lumpkin said. “It is out of line for a business to have a 100 percent increase.”

Lumpkin said the community needs the local businesses to survive. He said such a large increase could force business to reduce services or increase costs to consumers.

Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval said he has been against the increase since the very beginning. He said he knows the rates need to go up to pay for maintenance and operation of the system.

“The rate needs to be equal reasonable to all the residents before I can support it,” Sandoval said. “It is hard to see my community, which is dying, and pass this type of burden onto the residents.”

Witcher said the system should remain as it is and the percentage not be changed.

“When it comes to the commercial rate, businesses are in it to make money,” Witcher said. “They can adjust their usage and make adjustments as needed.”

Witcher said a program could be developed for those citizens that may need assistance.

“There could be a form which they’d fill out and the commission would review,” Witcher said. “If approved there rate could be adjusted to better suit them.”

The commission will vote on the redistricting and water rates at 6 p.m., Dec. 8 at City Hall.