City Manager addresses commissioners, public on recent issues
April 19, 2017 | View PDF
Breaking with usual city commission business Thursday, Tucumcari City Manager Jared Langenegger read a 12-page response to criticisms leveled at the city by those sponsoring a recall of three city commissioners.
A recall special election will be held June 13.
Instead of his usual report on events and developments, Langenegger read a statement describing actions designed to help reverse the city’s economic decline that commissioners and city administration have taken since he became city manager two and a half years ago.
The statement also accused Keith and Corrine Hayes — the couple who coordinated the recall petition — of using “half-truths and misinformation” to advance the recall.
“The Hayes are hiding behind a veil of misinformation and innuendo to avoid having to comply with the nuisance ordinance and clean their property,” Langenegger said. “Their actions, in my opinion, are quite frankly despicable.”
Much of Langenegger’s statement Thursday countered assertions made in letters and advertisements that the Hayes have sent to Tucumcari residents and the Quay County Sun. The letter to the Quay County Sun did not comply with the newspaper’s letters-to-the-editor policy and was not published.
He said the Hayes family has said the city should focus on economic development instead of weeds and vacant buildings, but keeping up appearances in town contributes to economic development
“If your community is not aesthetically pleasing, individuals will not want to move to your community,” he said. “Aside from aesthetics, there are safety and health concerns that come along with vacant buildings and overgrown lots.”
Langenegger said other business owners and families are making corrections to comply with the nuisance ordinance, and it would be unfair to these people for city government “to simply turn our heads away from the Hayes’ property.”
The following were other issues Langeneggar addressed regarding accusations made by the Hayes family:
• Regarding letters being sent to citizens and the newspaper, Langenegger said the Hayes attack city economic development efforts, but the city has obtained Local Economic Development Act funds for many local business projects, including Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory and 3D Tools — a project also attacked by the Hayes.
“They have completed the manufacturing process for all of the parts, and they will now be shipped within the next two weeks,” Langenegger said of 3D Tools, which will manufacture snow shovels that tilt to act as snowplows.
• The Hayes also said the city should focus on improving its workforce instead of worrying about weeds and vacant buildings, said Langenegger, adding that the city and the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation have been working with a program to certify Quay County as a Work Ready Community by qualifying employees, students and job seekers for National Career Readiness Certificates.
• In a March 29 advertisement published in the Quay County Sun, the Hayes pointed out problems with street maintenance and leaks in water and sewer lines, as well as roof leaks at City Hall, according to Langeneggar, who said the city has paved 30 blocks and has applied for Community Development Block Grant funding for more paving projects.
In addition, he said, the city has chipsealed some streets near Washington Avenue on the city’s south side.
Langenegger pointed out that there is always more infrastructure work to be done than money in the bank.
“Our particular situation is exacerbated by the fact that we are maintaining an infrastructure that was built for 10,000 people with only a population of 5,000 paying taxes to maintain it,” he said.
• Regarding the Hayes expressing concerns over city personnel policies, Langenegger said a city employee was denied a vacation request after exhausting allowable leave time.
• Langenegger also denied the Hayes’ claim that city ambulances do not respond to out-of-town calls.
“We do have a lot of work to do to get back to being a Blue Ribbon City,” he said, “but with persistence, we’ll get there.”
After Thursday’s meeting, Keith Hayes said Langenegger’s comments were “a lot of blue sky.”
“A lot of it (Langeneggar’s comments) does not pertain to Tucumcari in general,” he said, adding that many residents are displeased with the city’s interference on their personal properties.
People are “not happy when the city manager has work done around a buddy’s house with city crews,” he said.
Langenegger denied the accusation, saying Hayes may have been referring to community clean-up activities at some properties that involved volunteers, including city employees.