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Wednesday, August 23, 2000

RCH board approves two-cent tax hike

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 23, 2000 - The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors voted to raise the current 32-cent tax rate to 34 cents per $100 valuation during its regular meeting last night.

Board President Marcella Lovett said the two-cent hike in taxes would help the hospital and the community in the long run.

Lovett explained that the federal government asked Tax Assessor and Collector Lydia Prieto to include money spent on indigent care in the effective and rollback calculations this year. She said the addition was not mandatory but was recommended.

The indigent care is money that is spent on the patients who are not able to pay for all their medical expenses at the hospital.

Lovett said adding the indigent care to the calculations would force future boards to raise taxes in order to keep up the high quality care from the hospital.

"By adding the indigent care the taxpayers are going to have to pick up more of the burden," she said.

Lovett also said by raising the tax rate now the hospital would be able to use the money for new equipment to better service the community.

The majority of the board agreed with Lovett and voted in favor of the tax hike by a 3-2 margin.

Board member Leo Hung was one of the two members that voted against the tax hike and motioned to use the effective tax rate of 33 cents.

Hung said he believes the hike is unnecessary because the hospital has enough money in reserves to be okay financially in the future. He also said the amount of money brought into the hospital through the tax hike would be less than what could be there if departments made some budget cuts.

"Some departments could trim their budget," Hung said. "That could bring up to five times revenue as the tax increase."

Hung said the money from the tax increase would be minimal.

"That is not a big chunk of money," he said. "I really don't think it's necessary."

Board member Chel Flores voted with Hung against the tax hike.

Flores agreed with Hung that the hospital has enough money, making the increase in taxes unnecessary.

"Why should we raise the taxes when we don't need it," he said.

Board member Holly Key, who voted with Lovett and Jesse Prieto, said the hospital should not rely on the money in the bank.

"Even though we have reserves, we want to keep the hospital healthy," Key said.

Lovett assured the Board that the 2-cent increase would not be much for taxpayers. She said that on a $60,000 home the raise would make the homeowner only pay $6 more a year.

"When you look at it overall that's not much of an increase," she said.

Lovett wanted to assure the community that she did not want to raise the taxes if it was not necessary.

"I'm a taxpayer and I don't like to pay more taxes at all," she said.

The two cent tax hike comes two years after the board approved a 3½ cent drop in the hospital's tax rate, which had been at 35.5 cents per $100 valuation.

Before setting the tax rate the board approved the calculations of the effective and rollback tax rates from Lydia Prieto, as well as the 2000 budget hearing.

They also approved the joint conference committee report and the hospital risk management plan along with the 2000 operating and capital budget.

In other action, the Board also voted 3-2 for sending a memo to the employees asking them to follow proper procedures when filing complaints.

The memo would be sent to all employees in the hospital asking them not to go directly to the Board members about work related problems.

Flores, along with Hung, voted against the memo, saying if employees complain to their supervisors and choose to then go above their supervisors they risk the chance of retaliation.

He said he does not believe in limiting the options for the employees and suggested setting up a grievance committee.

"I think we're living in a free country where we can speak to who we want," Flores said.

Hung said forbidding employees to talk to board members open them up for accusations. He explained that an employee could be running personal errands and taking care of business at any one of the businesses the board members work at and could be seen by another employee, opening them up to accusations of discussing complaints with them.

Flores said even though the Board voted for the memo, he would continue to suggest the grievance committee proposal every chance he could get.

Board members also received reports on the financial reports for July and the monthly tax collections on Tuesday, along with an update on the city's Main Street Project.

The Board also approved the recommendation from the medical staff to appoint William Meshel to the consulting staff and clinical privileges in Emergency medicine.

Council plans discussion on tax rate levels

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 23, 2000 - The Pecos City Council is scheduled to discuss the tax rate during its regular meeting at 7:30 a.m., Thursday at City Hall.

The Council will discuss with Tax Assessor and Collector Lydia Prieto the 2000 effective tax rate, 2000 debt tax rate and the 2000 rollback tax rate.

In executive session the Council will also discuss appointing an interim City Manager, after City Manager Kenneth Neal resigned last week to take another job close to Dallas.

Frank Spencer of Spencer and Associates will discuss plans for drilling six test holes in the South Worsham Water Field, a change order for the Worsham Well Field and payment for engineering services on the South Worsham field.

The Council will consider approving the contract with Corplan Corrections to build a new city jail facility and consider allowing Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney for funding from the U.S. Marshal's Service for the new jail facility.

Renaming the Eastside Community Center is on the agenda as well as a request from Anchor West to reserve Maxey Park for a company picnic.

The Council will also consider approving Mayor Ray Ortega as an authorized signatory of city check accounts and leasing a new copier for City Hall.

City Attorney Scott Johnson will read the second reading of an amendment of Appendix A Zoning, Section 15 in the city charter.

City crews work to beat water line deadline

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 23, 2000 - Progress is coming along rapidly on installation of a water line by the Town of Pecos City and which will help Reeves County in its own construction project.

The water line extension, which begins on Eddy Street and will extend along the Balmorhea Highway and Locker Road to the Reeves County Detention Center, has been under construction for about 2-3 weeks.

"We've been working on it daily and have been working late hours to try to finish up this project," said street and water foreman Ray Orona. "We're making real good progress."

The water line will connect to an elevated storage tank and a ground storage tank at the RCDC and will provide water for the new 1,000-bed addition to the facility, which will double the current capacity to 2,000 inmates.

The first inmates are expected to arrive at the new facility two weeks from today, on Sept. 6, and the line is scheduled to be completed by then.

The city and county worked out the plan earlier this year, after going through mediation in Austin over a dispute centering on payments by the county to the city for water use at the RCDC.

The city employees are installing 16 inch, C-900 PVC Pipe along the highway and the pipe will carry water to the storage tanks at the RCDC.

"We've covered a little over half of what we need to do," said Orona. "We still have about 4,000 feet of it."

Orona said the city has ordered 7,000 feet of the pipe and workers have already installed quite a bit of it.

"We'll continue to work late on getting this project done, and are doing our best to complete it by the set date," he said.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo stated that the county is very pleased with the work in progress.

"We're very happy with all that they have done and the great relationship we have established with the city," he said, while adding the county has developed and has begun implementing a fallback plan, in case the water line installation is not completed by the Sept. 6 deadline.

"This is a secondary plan to fill the elevated and ground storage tanks," said Galindo. "However, those tanks require large volumes of water and in order to get them filled up, we need to do that during the night," when city water use is at its lowest.

The fallback plan was started Tuesday night and will continue until the tanks are filled.

"Over the next few days, we'll be filling those systems, so that (the tanks) can be filled before the opening of the facility," said Galindo.

The air conditioning system also requires water, which is filtered through the system to provide the cool air. "So water is a vital component of the whole facility," said Galindo.

"I'm sure the City of Pecos is doing everything possible to get us the new water line installation completed," said Galindo. "I'm just glad that they are working so diligently on it and are making it a priority."

Galindo said he realizes those employees have other tasks to attend to and is pleased with their work.

"The only thing is that the back-up plan needs to be done at night or we lose all the water pressure," he said.

Ward, Loving get access to SBA's low-interest loans

PECOS, August 23, 2000 - Businesses in Loving and Ward counties that depend on farmers and ranchers as their primary customers can now apply for low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The loans are for damages caused by drought and/or high winds in the two counties since Jan. 1, 2000. Loans at 4 percent and up to $1.5 million in cash and 30 years in length are available under the program, but refinancing of long-term debt is not allowed.

For further information, contact the SBA toll-free at 1-800-366-6306 or TDD 817-267-4688 for the hearing-impaired. Deadline for businesses to file for the loans is March 20, 2001.


Jesus Prieto

Jesus Jacquez Prieto, 71, of Marfa, died Sunday, Aug. 20, 2000, as the result of a motor vehicle accident on U.S. 90 in Marfa.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., today at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, at the church with Rev. Rick Ruiz officiating. Burial will be in Merced Cemetery.

Prieto was born May 29, 1929 in Ruidosa. He was a long-time Marfa resident, worked with the City of Marfa Utilities Department for 10 years before retirement and was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Survivors include his wife, Lilia Vasquez Prieto of Marfa; one son, Joe Franco of Pecos; one daughter, Rosa P. Melendez of Marfa; one brother, Francisco Prieto of Fort Stockton; five sisters, Lucila Gatlan and Dominga Escajeda of Midland, Lupe Prieto and Ana Montferrand of Fort Stockton and Juanita Magallanez of Hobbs, N.M.

Memorial Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, August 23, 2000 - High Tuesday 94. Low this morning 70. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low in the mid 60s. Light southeast wind. Thursday: Partly cloudy. High near 95. Southeast wind 10-20 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear. Low in the upper 60s. Friday: Mostly sunny and fair at night. Low in the upper 60s. High in the mid 90s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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