Predator control levy will continue

July 29, 2011 • Local News

Chaves County Commissioners ordered a special levy to continue charging 50 cents per head on all animals to be protected from coyotes, mountain lions and bobcats under the Predator Control Program during their monthly meeting, Thursday.

The move came after almost 70 percent of cattle owners and almost 90 percent of sheep and goat owners in the county voted to continue the levy in a recent election conducted by the Chaves County Predator Control Board.

The commissioners accepted the results of the election and ordered the levy, at the request of the newly elected Predator Control Board president Russell Leonard.

“It’s a strong program,” Leonard said, calling the levy a “self-imposed tax” on 400 livestock owners in Chaves County. “We’re not asking for money from the county,” he added.

Predators pose a huge threat to livestock in the county, Leonard said, especially coyotes. Mountain lions and bobcats also have posed a threat. No figures were immediately available on how many livestock have been harmed by predators in the county in recent years.

The Predator Control Board initially levied the tax [auth] about five years ago, and the commissioner’s vote keeps it in effect for another five years, effective Jan. 1, 2012. Proceeds of the levy will be used to fund the Predator Control Program.

County commissioners during the meeting also passed a resolution to request the New Mexico Department of Transportation to consider assisting the community with beautification of the primary highway entryways into Roswell. Staff reports stated there have been numerous and regular complaints of some of the junkyards on properties lining the gateways to the community, so commissioners agreed to endorse and support a cooperative plan between the county and the city to pass joint resolutions requesting the state DOT to help regulate the operation and maintenance of areas adjacent to the primary highway systems.

The commissioners also decided to table a request to grant the Denver-based wind developer company Compass Wind Projects LLC, a special use permit to build a commercial wind farm near Highway 172 in order to have more time to review stipulations and findings of facts.

Commission Chairman Greg Nibert worried that the county may have set forth too many regulations for Compass Wind Projects, since the county does not yet have a wind energy plan or policy in place.

“I don’t like setting a precedent that we’re going to get involved in some of these details,” Nibert said, noting that Compass Wind Projects should be treated like any other business in the county. “I would opt to put less restrictions in.”

Commissioner Smiley Wooton agreed, and said, “That’s all we need — more regulation.”

There were over 20 stipulations in the special use permit agreement for Compass Wind, including one that forbade any logos or advertisements from appearing on the turbines and another mandating that all towers be un-climbable. Nibert pointed out that the towers need to be climbable for workers if the turbines are broken or need repair.

Compass Wind Projects project manager Kyle Paulson said he would not object to a short delay and that it would not interfere with the project’s deadline. Paulson also noted that his company has worked in about 20 states and that the stipulations put forth by Chaves County seemed reasonable.

The commissioners will vote on the special permit use at their August meeting.

Before convening, commissioners also voted to change the county purchasing policy. The original purchasing policy, in order to insure that all purchases are made at the best possible prices, stated that purchases less than $10,000 may be processed without quotations and purchases from $10,000 to $19,999.99 must be processed by obtaining three written quotes.

Commissioners voted in April to change the small purchase limit from $10,000 to $5,000 in an effort to make a more diligent effort to obtain best value.

Due to recent personnel changes and fewer employees in the purchasing department, the purchasing department on Thursday requested that the commissioners reinstate the original threshold for the small purchase amount back to $10,000, which is in accordance with state statute. The resolution passed, with assurances from the purchasing department that purchasing is still being handled efficiently, and that the process is diligent in obtaining the best price regardless of the purchase amount.

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