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Pecos out of arid landfill deal

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Some West Texas cities may benefit from a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to delay for two years enforcement of strenuous groundwater monitoring rules for small, arid landfills, but Pecos won't be one of them.

Armando Gil, city sanitarian, said that Pecos does not qualify for the
arid exemption because of the shallow water table. The landfill now in
use and a new trench to be constructed next year are lined with soil and plastic at a cost of about $700,000 per trench.

U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas-23) is cautiously applauding the EPA's
decision to delay monitoring enforcement for two years.

The delay will allow the EPA time to write a new rule which may make it
easier and less costly for affected communities to comply.

"This is a big relief for small communities across Texas which have been struggling to comply with this expensive federal mandate," Bonilla said.

Even if the EPA would allow the arid exemption, the Texas Natural
Resources Conservation Commission would not, Gil said.

"I called TNRCC several times when I have heard there was a chance they
would exempt us, but they say `We won't do it,'" he said.

Monahans and Fort Stockton qualify for the arid exemption, he said, and
Monahans' landfill charge is $36 per ton, compared to $50 for Pecos.

West Texas Waste, which picks up trash from area towns that don't have a landfill, recently switched to Monahans and Presidio after Pecos raised its rates for outside dumping, Gil said.

"Now that we have eliminated most of the outside garbage, I am looking
at 8-10 years for the new trench, with no major expense," Gil said.

Landfills are the only feasible means of disposing of waste, with the
prohibitive cost of incineration. In the future, Pecos may opt to
construct a transfer station and haul garbage to an area landfill, he

Bonilla and other West Texas representatives have appealed to the EPA
since the May 7, 1993 Court of Appeals ruling that overturned the
exemption regarding groundwater monitoring for arid regions.

He said it could affect 150 West Texas landfills, where monitoring could cost the average household an extra $100 per year.

"We stressed to the EPA that the risk of groundwater contamination from
landfills is low to non-existent in arid West Texas," Bonilla said.
"This region gets very little rain and in most cases, the groundwater is located deep below the surface, well out of reach of possible landfill contamination."

Gil said that, although potable water in this area is deep,
contamination in the shallow water table could percolate down to the
good water eventually.

"I would hate to see our grandwater contaminated for our children," he

Besides installing a clay liner, flexible membrane liner, filter fabric
and gravel with protective cover on top, Pecos is required to collect
any water that does filter through or percolate up from the water table
and drain it into a nearby pond.

Monitoring wells near the trenches alert Gil's staff to any groundwater

Gil said that bid invitations have gone out for construction of the new
trench, and he expects excavation to begin in January.

Bonilla said it is ridiculous for small West Texas towns to foot the
bill for the costly regulation, especially when it's not even needed.

"These towns are already paying a high price to ship their waste to
landfills hudnreds of miles away, even as they figure out how to comply
with the groundwater mandate," he said. "This financial burden threatens
to wipe some of our Texas towns right off the map."

Council holds firm on tax contract

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Despite a tempting offer by County Judge Jimmy Galindo to collect their taxes at a fraction of his original proposal, Pecos Mayor Dot Stafford and councilman Elvia Reynolds this morning opted to honor their contract with the school district.

Hospital board president Raul Garcia would make no commitment to either entity.

And school trustee Frank Perea said he would not agree to let the
county tax assessor-collector collect the school district's taxes.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board president Linda Gholson hosted the
informal meeting of representatives from the four entities in the school board room this morning, and the discussion lasted three hours.

Although all agreed that tax collection should be consolidated, neither Galindo nor Perea would budge. And neither tax assessor-collector, Elfida Zuniga for the county and Lydia Prieto for the school district, appeared eager to give up her job.

Prieto said she has 16 years experience and is a fully-certified tax
collector. She said she could convert the city and hospital district
taxes to her system this week and possibly mail statements next week.

Zuniga said she could have statements printed almost immediately, since city and county records are already in the county's computer system. Adding the school district would take longer, and Zuniga said she is not prepared at this time to take on that responsibility.

Galindo said that if the school district agrees to allow the county to
collect their taxes, the commissioners court would create a position in
the tax office for Prieto at her current salary of $29,400.

But Zuniga said she would not hire Prieto nor anyone else at that
salary. She said the open position would be for a deputy at $12,000 per

Galindo's new posposal, made after the city and hospital district asked the school to consider collecting their taxes, is based on costs and allocated on a per parcel basis.

He said he could guarantee the city of Pecos a fee of $7,500 a year for two years. The hospital district would pay $30,750, and the school
district $36,750.

Carolyn Riley, hospital administrator, questioned Galindo's method of
calculating cost. She said state tax law requires the county to collect
taxes for other entities, charging only what additional costs are
incurred above what tax collections already cost the county.

Galindo disagreed, noting an attorney general's opinion that they may
charge up to 1 percent of the tax levy for each entity.

All agreed that time is of the essence, with tax statements due to be
mailed this week.

Gholson suggested the entities continue to discuss consolidation for
next year, and to get it out of politics, to consider having the Reeves
County Appraisal District collect all taxes.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. today to consider accepting the
contract with the city of Pecos to collect their taxes for one year at
cost, not to exceed $22,800.

Youth picked for commission

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Youth chosen to serve on the Pecos Youth Advisory Commission will take the oath of office in a special meeting of Pecos City Council at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 9.

Chosen to serve on the commission are Nettie Rodriguez, Michael
Chabarria, Kelsey Hathorn, Kris Armstead and Wade Dodson from the senior class; Terrance Baily, a junior; Stephanie Gonzales and Belinda Heard, sophomores; and Rebecca Spencer, Tye Graham and April Ryan, freshmen.

Eighth graders chosen are Dana Warren, Brandi Harrison, Sara Matta and
Roxie Natividad. From the seventh grade are Christopher Matta, Lyndall
Elkins, Nicole Payne, Randall Reynolds, Trent Riley and Meagan Joplin.

"We want to thank everyone who took the time to apply," said Geneva
Martinez, city secretary.

Councilmen Danny Rodriguez and Elvia Reynolds were appointed by the
council to form the commission, which will serve as a liaison between
the council and youth of the community.

The commission will hold regular meetings similar to city council
meetings, posting an agenda in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings

Consolidated elections out for this year

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - "No action" by the Pecos City Council this morning effectively halts a plan to consolidate elections for the city, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and Reeves County Hospital.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo presented an estimate of costs to the
council, which shows a savings of only $1,386 for the three entities if
the county provides administration through the offices of county clerk
and tax assessor-collector.

He said the city, hospital and school district spent $17,193 last year
in holding separate elections.

With consolidation, the three entities would share a $7,500 elections
management fee paid to Reeves County, plus $8,307 estimated
consolidation cost, for a total of $15,807.

Galindo proposed an interlocal agreement that would include an
administration fee of $7,500, to be shared by the three entities, either equally or proportionally, based on number of registered voters.

Additional costs under consolidation would be $2,000 for supplies,
$1,320 for early voting staff, $2,112 for election day staff, $2,475 for computer equipment and software, and $400 for advertising.

Early voting would require two persons at $6 per hour, 10 hours per day
for 11 days.

Election day cost is for 13 voting boxes, each having two staff at $6
per hour for 12 hours.

In an interview following the council meeting, Galindo said his estimate was based on information provided by others. If the hospital and school districts require only six boxes instead of 13, the cost would be less, he said.

Those entities have in the past had only one voting place in Pecos and
one in each outlying town.

"Probably the biggest benefit is voter convenience," Galindo said. "It's hard to determine the value of having one place to vote; it is

Mayor Dot Stafford said the issue is dead for this year, because the
deadline to complete consolidation is Jan. 18.

Galindo said he hopes to continue discussions in the spring when
consolidation of tax collections resumes. Then if an agreement is
reached, each entity can plan their budgets for next year with
consolidation in mind.

The council approved a contract with Kenneth Sydow to lease an old
service station at U.S. Highway 285 and the south service road of I-20,
paying $225 per month for two years;

- Passed on first reading an ordinance annexing property at 608 W. "F"
Street owned by Audrey Hill;

- Passed on first reading an ordinance closing the alley between Fourth
and Fifth Streets where the new federal courthouse is located;

- Increased water rates for Barstow residents from $1.26 per 1,000
gallons to $1.35. In their 99-year contract, the city of Barstow agreed
to pay the actual cost of water distribution, based on an annual audit.

- Granted David Madril's request to start an office paper recycling
program in all municipal buildings;

- And gave Madril permission to donate revenue from recycled aluminum
cans to the Pecos Chamber of Commerce's Christmas decorations fund.
Butts Recycling had agreed to turn those revenues over to the city, but
bookkeeping costs would offset revenues, Madril said.

Private firm seeks waste transfer

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Charter Waste Management Inc. proposed to the Pecos City Council this morning a landfill operation and waste transfer plan that could save the city $154,714 per year.

Ed Rhodes, CWM vice president, said the company would construct a
transfer station at the landfill and truck 80-85 percent of the trash
and garbage to their 400-acre landfill five miles west of Odessa.

All trash weighed across the scales at the local landfill would cost the
city $45 per ton, including that remaining in the city's trench.

"You have a good location and a good landfill, but the amount of waste
you receive, you have to operate under the same regulation we do,"
Rhodes said.

The Odessa facility handles 650 tons a day, compared to about 40 in
Pecos, Rhodes said, and the city will have to spend more as the landfill expands.

"As you develop additional cell areas, the state will require you to set money aside," he said.

While the Odessa site should last for more than 100 years, the city
could terminate the contract at any time and regain ownership of
equipment and buildings.

Reduction in liability for bird strikes at Pecos Municipal Airport is
another factor that should make the transfer attractive, Rhodes said.

"The FAA said, `if we ever have any near bird strikes, we will shut you
down,'" he said. By transferring all garbage that would attract birds,
the city would not have that liability.

And the present trench should last another five years, Rhodes said.

CWM would excavate a new trench while removing dirt to cover the filled
trench. Then the city would only have to contract for a liner, said Roy
Knowles, who accompanied Rhodes to the 7:30 a.m. meeting.

City Sanitarian Armando Gil made a counter proposal to build a transfer
station and purchase a truck tractor with two trailers to haul waste to
CWM's facility. The dumping fee is currently $23 to $24 per ton, he said.

He estimated the start-up costs at $466,000. "From there on it is just a
simple operation," he said.

Gil said he checked with the Texas Natural Resources Conservation
Commission, and "they said it would be better for us to operate our own
transfer station."

West Texas Waste of New Mexico and El Paso Disposal both have said they
will make a proposal, said City Manager Harry Nagel.

"It seems to me that they can do it for less than we can do it, because
they are in the business," said councilman Elvia Reynolds. "They know
what they are doing; they are prepared."

Randy Graham, who initiated the dialog with CWM, said he liked the idea
of transferring 90 percent of the trash.

"It takes the pressure off. We are at the mercy of the people in Austin.
Maybe we can cut down on our monitoring," he said.

Mayor Dot Stafford appointed Reynolds and Graham to verify CWM's
figures, meet with other proposers and report back to the council in

The council also passed an emergency ordinance adopting model
subdivision rules and a resolution on matching funds for the
Economically Depressed Areas Program, directed police captain David
Montgomery to check on prices for marijuana field test kits for his
officers, tentatively agreed to repair the roof of a service station
leased to Kenneth Sydow in return for increased monthly rent, approved a contract with Reeves County Hospital for ambulance service and ordered
Nagel to provide decals to mark all city vehicles displaying exempt tags.

No action was taken following an executive session to discuss the salary schedule for health and sanitation secretary, bookkeeper, water
superintendent and police captain.

The council recessed until 1 p.m. to consider Reeves County
Commissioners' response to their proposed fire contract.

Slick alleys slow trash pickup

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Gentle rain and big flakes of snow that fell briefly Thursday afternoon has soaked alleyways, preventing dump trucks from emptying some dumpsters, said Armando Gil, city sanitarian.

With Christmas coming up, Gil asked that gift wrap and boxes be taken to
the recycling center on West Second Street rather than placed in

David Madril said he would have extra cartons available to receive the
boxes and wrapping material.

For material that is not recyclable, extra dumpsters are located at the
rodeo grounds across from McDonald's on South Cedar Street and near
Showtime in the Airlawn Shopping Center.

Christmas trees should be taken to the city landfill on Texas Highway 17 or to a designated area west of the zebra pens at Maxey Park.

Gil said city crews will pick up discarded Christmas trees left on the
former soccer field south of Kid City.

"We will have a sign, `Discarded Christmas Trees,'" Gil said.

Trees will be run through the chipper and added to the compost pile the
city has started at the landfill. Adding manure and onion hulls, city
crews rotate the material once a week.

By summer the material should be composted into a good mulch, Gil said.

Fire costs split with county

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Pecos City Council this morning approved a contract with Reeves County to provide fire protection outside the city limits in 1996, with the county paying half the cost and $10,000 toward purchase of a fire truck.

Reeves County's share of the total budget for the Pecos Volunteer Fire
Department is $89,555. The county would be required to pay one-fourth of
that sum each quarter, with the final payment either reduced or
increased to reflect actual costs.

Reeves County Commissioners will consider the contract in their Dec. 28
meeting. Should they approve the contract, it would be necessary to
amend the 1996 budget, which allocates only $25,000.

City firemen will receive training for fire prevention and control at
county public facilities, including the Reeves County Detention Center.

City Attorney Scott Johnson said that he, councilmen Randy Graham,
Gerald Tellez and fire chief Doug Cox met with county officials to
negotiate the terms of the contract.

"The money part was not resolved at that meeting," he said. "The county
has been placed on notice that if they are not able to come up with
additional funds, there may be necessary curtailment of services to the
county outside the city limits for financial reasons."

He said that County Judge Jimmy Galindo understands the matter involves
property and personal safety of county citizens.

"He was going to meet with the county auditor and commissioners to see
what adjustments they could make in their budget," Johnson said.

Studies have shown that the majority of fire calls and time spent in the past few years have been outside the city limits, Johnson said.

"The city is subsidizing county residents for fire protection," he said. "Galindo said it is all public funds, and we need to cooperate. But it requires both entities cooperating."

Councilman Elvia Reynolds said the city should not even have a fire

"It should be the county, because we are paying county taxes too," he

Johnson said he brought up the fact that the county could operate their
own fire department, but the cost is much higher than the present

"The meeting was very calm, not confrontational," Johnson said. "It was
just a matter of setting the facts forth and coming up with an agreement we could all live with."

Cox said the county doesn't want to be obligated for the $10,000 payment toward a new fire truck. In the past, excess funds have been put into the accrual account for purchase of a truck. But if those funds are going to be returned to the county, the $10,000 is needed, he said.

A new pumper is needed to maintain the city's key insurance rate, Cox

The council also authorized Pecos Ambulance Service Chief Susan Starck
to advertise for bids on purchase of an ambulance; adopted an ordinance
placing stop signs on Jackson Street at Pigman, Arizona and Beauchamp
streets; approved 1995 tax rolls in the amount of $788,570; authorized
chief appraiser Carol King Markham to process property value reports for the city;

Authorized fire marshall Jack Brookshire to advertise for bids to
demolish 22 condemned structures; adopted a resolution setting the
maximum speed limit on I-20 through Pecos at 70 mph; authorized a
contract amendment on the South Worsham well field that will allow grant money to be spent instead on the Ward County field; agreed to pay
fulltime employees $50 and part-time employees $25 each "for future
services" in lieu of a Christmas bonus, which is illegal; and approved
monthly bills and reports.

Dan Painter reported on his audit of 1994-95 finances and won the
contract for the 1995-96 audit at $12,732, a 3 percent increase. He gave
the city a "clean bill of health."

Kenneth Sydow's request to renew his lease on the city's service station at U.S. Highway 285 and the south service road of I-20 was tabled until the next meeting, when Sydow can be present.

Also tabled was discussion on salary schedule classification amendments.

Council to divert grant funds from water field

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Pecos City Council agreed this morning to postpone construction of a second landfill trench and to divert $350,000 in grant funds from a new South Worsham well field transmission line to replacement of a section of the Ward field line.

Frank Spencer, design engineer on both projects, said the transmission
line grant must be spent and the line in operation within two years.
That will not be possible because it will take up to three years to
develop the field, he said.

After meeting with state officials concerning the city's application for a grant to develop the field, Spencer said the city and county will have to adopt model subdivision rules and a facilities planning report must be made - to include environmental assessment, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Historical Society hearings.

Spencer said that would take six to eight months, then the Texas Water
Development Board would determine whether the city could apply for a
construction grant.

If approved, construction would take another eight to 10 months, he
said, so it would be 2½ to 3 years before the field is developed.

To keep from losing the grant and the opportunity to apply for another
one next year, Spencer recommended replacement of about a mile of the
Ward field line instead.

Spencer said that about four miles of line needs to be replaced, and it
may be possible to get a $350,000 grant each year to replace 1-1¼ miles,
as was done this year.

That construction project was completed and approved Wednesday, Spencer

But Spencer disagreed with Armando Gil that the current landfill trench
will last another 22 months, and he recommended going ahead with
construction bids, which have been solicited.

His survey shows the trench will be full by May at the October dump rate of 31 tons per day.

However, Gil said that private haulers who have been dumping five tons
per week each from Toyah, Barstow and Pecos County have said they will
not pay the $50 per ton dumping fee and will use another landfill.

With the increased recycling efforts and a new equipment operator who
compacts the trash better when it is deposited in the landfill, Gil said he believes the trench will last longer.

The council agreed to postpone construction and allow Gil to determine
if and when a new trench should be started.

The council also agreed to purchase a street sweeper for $93,000, paying the $80,000 budgeted this year and financing the remainder until the following fiscal year.

Octavio Garcia, utilities director, said it would save $2,000 on the
purchase price to buy the sweeper now rather than wait for the new
budget year, which begins Oct. 1, 1996.

The old sweeper is in bad shape, said city manager Harry Nagel, and he
received an offer of $5,000 for it.

Tom Rivera, Pecos Chamber of Commerce executive director, presented the
council a framed copy of a montage to be used in chamber advertising and by local businesses.

He also explained an effort to provide a central computer hookup with
Internet capabilities for the chamber, city and county.

The Texas Department of Commerce has a program for economic development
that allows any corporation seeking to re-locate to contact cities
directly, Rivera said.

"We will be able to access all sorts of economic development data,"
Rivera said.

A resolution placing stop signs on Jackson Street at Pigman, Arizona and Beauchamp streets was approved on first reading; a bill from Records
Consultants Inc. that was $960 over the bid limit was approved; and
Mayor Dot Stafford proclaimed Nov. 19-26 National Bible Week.

The council agreed to change the Nov. 23 meeting (Thanksgiving Day) to
Nov. 21.

Gil says wait to dig new trench

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Staff Writer

PECOS, 1995 - Postponing construction of a second landfill trench could save $600,000 - if the city of Pecos can qualify for an arid exemption, said Armando Gil, city sanitarian.

Pecos City Council will consider Thursday whether to advertise for
construction bids as scheduled or wait until next year to see if the
Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission change the rules on liners and groundwater monitoring.

Under current rules, Pecos is required to line the trench with plastic
and clay and install a leachate collection system to keep the decaying
garbage from contaminating groundwater.

Another requirement for the arid exemption is a low dumping rate. Pecos
had been receiving 45-50 tons per day, but when the council increased
the fee to $50 per ton, outside haulers switched to other area dumps.

Recycling efforts have also reduced the dump rate, and Gil said the
landfill is now averaging 28-31 tons per day.

Besides the new Butts Recycling center, large businesses have their own
recycling plans, and the staff is composting grass and brush dumped at
the landfill.

Gil said the material is being shredded, combined with vegetable matter
from Anchor West and watered to turn it into material that can be used
in gardens.

In addition, the city recycles tires, batteries, oil and filers, Gil
said. "it is helping quite a bit."

With all those efforts, the current trench should last another 1½ years,
Gil said.

"We are going to re-survey around mid-May to be able to tell when to
advertise for construction bids on the new trench," he said. That is, if
the council agrees to postpone construction.

Other items on Thursday's 7:30 a.m. agenda include a street sweeper
purchase; stop signs on Jackson Street at Pigman, Arizona and Beauchamp; application to the Texas Water Development Board for funding under the economiclly distressed areas program; amend the Texas Community Development Grant program from South Worsham well field improvements to construction of water transmission line from the Ward well field;

Proclamation of National Bible Week, discuss a records consultants
invoice, consider a presentation of montage from Tom Rivera, Pecos
Chamber of Commerce executive director; and consider employee
performance reivew of chief of police and finance director.

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Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise
324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321