County commissioners OK new water plan study

Thomas Garcia

QCS Senior Writer

Quay County Commissioners authorized an application for funding to develop a new 40-year water plan at a regular meeting held Monday in Nara Visa.

In addition, the commission discussed the effects of recent legislation on funding for the Dr. Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital and the funding situation with the Tucumcari Quay County Regional Communications Center.

For the water plan, County Manager Richard Primrose asked the commission to approve the submission of a planning fund application to the New Mexico Finance Authority.

If the finance authority approves the application, the 75-percent grant would help fund a development of a plan that would apply to Quay County and all communities within the county.

Primrose said the other entities within the county have agreed to pay a portion of the match funds required to fund the study. Local sources would provide one dollar for every three from the state to conduct the study, if the grant is approved, according to Primrose.

He said the water plan would show that the county seeks to meet definite objectives with its water rights and would account for the effects of today’s severe drought conditions.

Commission Chair Brad Bryant said that if the county does not have a comprehensive plan, it is possible that outside entities may claim the water for their purposes.

Janie Hoffman, county assessor, updated the commission on the state’s Net Care Pool Fund, which now controls much of the hospital funding that counties once controlled through the Sole Community Provider Fund.

This funding is critical to the continued operation of Trigg Hospital, Bryant said.

Primrose said under the Sole Community Provider arrangement, the county would submit money generated from one of two gross receipts tax funds and receive a three-to-one match from the federal government to help handle care of people too poor to pay for needed medical treatment.

These funds paid much of the cost of operations and maintenance at the hospital, he said.

Under new legislation, however, he said, the counties will submit 1/12 of their gross receipt tax money to the state to be placed into a state-controlled fund to pay for uncompensated care for the poor, which threatens to reduce the amount that the hospital receives to cover these costs.

Another county special gross receipts tax, which voters renewed last year, covers some of that possible shortage, but there still may be a serious loss of money, Primrose said.

Bryant said the hospital needs all the available funding. He pointed out that the hospital serves not only Quay County residents, but provides care for persons passing through on U.S. Highway 54 and Interstate 40.

Hoffman said she would update information on the Net Care Pool Fund after she attends a meeting of the New Mexico Association of Counties at which the pool fund will be discussed. Hoffman is Quay County’s representative for the NMAC.

The commission also discussed the funding situation with the Tucumcari/Quay County Regional Communications Center.

With the state mandating that dispatch centers be consolidated in each county, Tucumcari, Logan, San Jon, House and Quay County all receive their radio communications and 911-relay service at Central Dispatch located inside the Tucumcari Police Department.

Primrose said Tucumcari and Quay County each cover 45 percent of the dispatch center’s budget while the other entities split the remaining 10 percent.

He said the projected budget for central dispatch is over $370,000, and there is a request to hire two additional dispatchers.

Bryant said central dispatch personnel not only answers and dispatches regional calls for services for police, sheriff and other law enforcement, they dispatch the numerous 911, fire and EMS calls.

Primrose suggested the commission consider asking voters to approve another gross receipt tax to fund the annual budget for central dispatch. He said that measure could be added to the November ballot.

The commission also approved:

• The donation of a truck to the newly forming Newkirk Fire Department in Guadalupe County. Commissioner Mike Cherry said the donation will benefit both Quay and Guadalupe County in response to brush fires near Newkirk.

• A rental contract between Quay and Harding County for the use of a bulldozer.

• The county’s signing of a joint letter addressed to Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region, to support the state’s proposed regulations for protecting the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

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