By Thomas Garcia
The Quay County Commission tabled the approval of a contract between the Quay County Detention Center and Mesa Counseling because of a requested increase of more than 70 percent in yearly cost.
The current contract with Mesa Couseling for the evaluation for inmates is $1,400 without gross receipts a month. The new amount reguested is $2,500 without gross receipt taxes.
“The requested increase is 78 percent, it has been hard enough trying to justify the original contract to the taxpayers,” said Franklin McCasland, commission chair.
The requested increase is caused by increases for inmate evaluations forecasted with the new regulations from the Association of Counties, said Richard Primrose.
Primrose said detention center inmates are taken out of the general population by action or request and must be evaluated in 24 hours. He said special management inmates would have to be evaluated to determine if their removal from general population will affect their mental state.
McCasland said the regulations are designed for larger correctional facilities that have several special management cells. He said there are only four such cells at the Quay County Detention Center.
The regulations are requiring the evaluation of any inmate that is removed from general population due to disciplinary action or by request, said T.J. Rich, QCDC administrator.
The commission needs to meet with the association of counties to determine if regulations can be amended for smaller facilities. He said if not, there should be an inquiry to the association for funding assistance for the required evaluations, said Mike Cherry, district 2 commissioner.
McCasland said the best course of action would be to table this until the commission and Primrose can speak with the association of counties.
In other business, Andrew Flanagan, vice president of Infigen, gave an update to the commissioners about the planned construction of a solar project in Quay County near the Caprock Wind Farm.
Flanagan said a dispute in the original land purchase contracts prompted the relocation of the construction site of the proposed 640-acre solar project. He said the project will still be constructed near the wind farm to tie into the existing power distribution lines.
Flanagan said the new construction site moves the project out of the San Jon School District and into the Tucumcari district. He said Infigen plans to start construction in the first quarter of 2016 and construction will take around six months to complete the first phase of 25 megawatt solar systems.
Flanagan said the construction must start before the end of 2016 to qualify for the federal credits. He said the new resolution for the change of districts has been submitted to the county’s attorney for review.
“This is a win-win for the Quay County and Tucumcari school districts,” McCasland said. “This will bring economic development and Payment in Leu of Taxes revenue to the schools.”
There are a lot of promising developments in the works for Tucumcari and the county, said Patrick Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp.
Vanderpool gave his quarterly report to commissioners and said last year was a very successful year for businesses in Tucumcari using Local Economic Development Act funds, to expand their businesses. Buena Vista Labs, LLP and Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory are two examples of businesses that used LEDA funds to expand operations in the area.
Vanderpool said several small business projects are in the pipeline that the EDC is working to help find sources to meet their funding needs. He said the EDC has also been working with existing businesses to find ways to improve their operations as well as looking into the possibility of using LEDA funds towards arts and culture businesses.
“I’ve always been a supporter of business retention and expansion,” McCasland said.
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved the DWI grant submission to the New Mexico Department of Finance Authority for salary evaluation cost.
• Issued a proclamation to the Daughters of the American Revolution declaring Constitution Week for Sept. 17-23 in Quay County.
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the Village of House for law enforcement coverage by the Quay County Sheriff’s office.
• Approved the submission of the Emergency Management Performance Grant for salary and training for Emergency Manager Curtis Simpson.
• Approved the 2015 property tax rates.
• Approved the Community Development Block Grant amendment and time extensions for the Cemetery Road improvement project.
• Held the first public hearing for the amendment of ordinance 43 to allow the commission to name the Flood Plain Manager for the county.
• Held an executive session to discuss limited personnel matters and threatened or pending litigation. No action was taken after the session.