By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Tucumcari city commissioners on Thursday approved the first reading of two ordinances set to increase the salaries of the municipal judge, city commissioners and mayor.
“It is important for the public to know that these increases will not take effect until after the municipal elections in 2016,” said Mayor Robert Lumpkin.
The commissioners, minus Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Ann Litchfield, who was absent from the meeting, approved the increase.
“These increases are … overdue,” said City Manager Jared Langenegger.
Langenegger said the last salary increase occurred in 2008. He said since then, commissioners have been doing a lot more work, especially recently with all the special meetings and functions.
According to the annual salary increases, commissioners will get an increase from $3,600 to $4,600; the mayor’s salary increases from $4,800 to $5,800; the municipal judge’s salary goes from from $14,355 to $15,750.
Lumpkin said there will be a public hearing held during the City Commission meeting on Dec. 10. The public will be able to comment on the proposed increase before commissioners vote for the final time on Ordinances 1128 and 1129.
The commissioners also approved the first reading of Ordinance 1130, which will amend the city’s local capital outlay gross receipt tax collected for Ute Lake water rights.
Langenegger described the Ute Lake tax as an existing tax. He said, “This is not asking the voters to approve a new tax.” He said the tax has included a quarter percent from gross receipt taxes that are used for protection of the city’s water rights at Ute Lake and the construction of an intake and delivery system to bring the water to the city.
Langenegger said the funds – totaling $1.9 million — are not being used right now; he said the city is fortunate to have wells that refresh at a rate that is greater than residents’ demand. He said the amendment will allow the city to use the funds to repair city infrastructure, including streets, water and sewer lines and the wastewater treatment plants.
“If we do not repair our streets and strengthen the infrastructure to attract new businesses, then there may not be a city around to use the water rights,” Langenegger said.
There will be a public hearing for the ordinance. If the commission approves it, the ordinance will go to a citywide vote on March 16.
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved the first reading of Ordinance 1131, amending the uniform traffic code making it illegal to text and drive and adding the definition of “three-wheel autocycle.”
• Approved two agreements with WHPacific Engineering Firm out of Albuquerque for the design of the Tucumcari Municipal Airport Terminal parking lot ($53,919.28) and a emergency generator and switch gear at the airport ($21,432.46).
• Approved the construction contract of the Five Mile Park water line with J&D Contracting Co., Inc., of Albuquerque for $1,776,167.03.
• Approved the repair of the emergency pressure sewer line repair near a KOA campground.
• Approved the appropriation of a new trash truck with capital outlay funds totaling $170,000.
• Approved the roof repair of the Tucumcari Public Library, for $78,703.24.
• Approved the incremental payments of the 2016 Rockabilly on the Route invoices.