City takes first step to lower water rates

Thomas Garcia

The Tucumcari City Commission took the first step Thursday to lowering water rates.

They approved first reading of an amendment to municipal water ordinance.

The commission must publish a notice of the final reading of the ordinance, which will be on Dec. 29 in the Quay County Sun, said city clerk Christine Dougherty. She said the commission can approve the ordinance and another notice will be placed in the Jan. 4 edition of the Quay County Sun detailing the ordinance’s approval.

“If approved, the new rates will not take effect until Feb. 1.,” Dougherty said “That will be at the start of the next billing cycle.”

“With this, we show the citizens of Tucumcari they do have a voice in city government,” said Commissioner Antonio Apodaca.

The commission had held several workshops and public hearings concerning the water rates after residents addressed the commission on the increased rate.

Ordinance 1099; changed the rate to 10 percent for residential and 20 percent for commercial users.

“I spoke with some business owners about the amendment and they said they could live with it,” said Commissioner Robert Lumpkin.

City manager Doug Powers said the ordinance changed the minimum gallon usage rate up to 3,000 gallons from 2,000.

“I spoke with residents about this change and they said it would work for them,” said Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval. “I can support this ordinance as it best serves the community.”

Resident Toni Leal said she is glad the commission listened to her and other residents concerned about the rate increase.

“I am happy, though I still have a problem,” Leal said. “They never told us if they found the glitch in the system.”

Leal said even with the increased rates some residents were receiving bills that were over a 100 percent increase.

“There has to be something wrong in the system,” Leal said. “There were residents who used the same amount of water or even less that were charged double if not triple.”

Leal said another problem is this ordinance only addresses a reduction in the water rates. She said she would like to see a reduction in rates across the board.

“They have reduced services, yet all the rates were raised,” Leal said. “We are paying more for less service.”

The commission also approved a municipal redistricting plan submitted by Southwest Political Services of Albuquerque.

The redistricting was necessary to balance the population for municipal elections according to state and federal law, said Mayor Jim Witcher.

Three concepts were available for the commission to choose from. Apodaca said Concept A provided the necessary changes while maintaining much of the original districts.

With redistricting in place, Dougherty called for the 2012 municipal elections on March 6.

The commissioners approved the calling with an amendment to change the voting convenience center location to the Tucumcari Public Library.

“Having the location at the center of town will allow more voters to participate,” Lumpkin said.

Apodaca said in the future a possible location to consider would be Mesalands Community College.

“Not many people know just how great that facility is,” Apodaca said. “There are so many things happening out there which benefit the community. We need to promote our area.”