Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Thomas Garcia
Staff writer 

House, Quay officials talk bond split


September 27, 2017

House School officials and Quay County Commissioners came to a preliminary agreement on the split from money generated from the Industrial Revenue Bonds of the proposed Casa Mesa Pilot wind farm.

“The request from an increased share of this new project is due to the need for more money for House Schools,” said Bonnie Lightfoot, superintendent.

Lightfoot made the request for an increased spilt to the commissioners during Monday’s regular meeting at the Quay County courthouse in Tucumcari. She said the schools are OK with the existing spilt, of 79 percent (Quay County) and 21 percent (House Schools) for the current New Mexico Wind Energy Center. However, it is in House Schools best interest that the split that would come from the IRBs of NextEra Energy Resources’ proposed wind farm made up of 19, 2.5 megawatt turbines and two 1.75 megawatt turbines be re-negotiated, Lightfoot added.

“House Schools needs the additional revenue to avoid cutting staff or services that will impact the students education,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said the school with a total enrollment of 70 students has been operating on emergency funding from the New Mexico Public Education Department. She said as a result, a large portion of the operational budget goes towards cost rather than improvements or increased services.

“I am a firm believer that the students if rural schools deserve all of the advancements, services and education of urban students,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said in order to provide the best education possible, without having to cut services or staff a split of 65/35, with Quay County getting the larger portion, would best serve the school district.

Commission Chairman Franklin McCasland said there is a concern of the cost to the county for the cost generated from the upkeep of infrastructure (county roads, including bus routes) from the expansion of the New Mexico Wind Energy Center and construction of the Casa Mesa Pilot wind farm.

McCasland said another issue is if there was a re-negotiated rate and House School closes the money would then be lost to the county if the school was absorbed by an out of county district. He said a 65/35 split was just not feasible.

“As a former educator I can see the need for an increased split for the sake of the students,” said Sue Dowell, District 1 commissioner.

Dowell said House schools do not reach out often for assistance from the county, their students are vital to the county.

Dowell motioned for a split of 70/30 that died due to a lack of a second.

“What if we met in the middle?” asked District 2 Commissioner Mike Cherry.

Cherry said he acknowledges the need for an increased motioning for a 73.5/26.5 split, that died due to a lack of a second.

McCasland motioned for a 72.5/27.5 split that was seconded by Cherry. Dowell voted against the split.

“I voted against the split hoping that it would be possible for a 70/30 increased split instead,” Dowell said.

Lightfoot said she originally wanted the 65/35 split but is happy that the commission agreed to a preliminary 72.5/27.5 split. She said the increase will help the schools with the operational cost and provide revenue for the improvement of the technology, services and quality of education at House Schools.

This agreement still has to be voted on by the House School Board of Education before any further advancement of the issuing of IRB for the proposed projects.


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