City official: Investments haven’t been affected adversely

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico Correspondent

In unsteady economic times, it was a natural question from Commissioner Robert Sandoval.

As city of Clovis chief budget officer Don Clifton presented his financial report of the city’s investments, Sandoval wanted to know how the recent Wall Street downturn affected the municipality.

Clifton’s response at Thursday’s regular Clovis City Commission meeting barely created a ripple of concern.

He informed commissioners that the city’s $22.3 million in investments has not been affected adversely. Afterward, Clifton explained the city has a philosophy of putting money in conservative investments.

“I’m concerned more about safety,” Clifton said. “It hasn’t hit us yet. The only way it’s hit us is that the state pool is paying less the last few months. That’s administered by the state of New Mexico and all municipalities and counties are eligible to invest in it. They are very conservative and very safe.”

The city currently has $3.2 million in banks in the form of investments such as bond indentures. It also has $5.5 million in a one-year CD.

Clifton said that negative repercussions of the current economic troubles were a possibility for the future.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” he added. “I hope not.”

In other business:

• Commissioner Randy Crowder reported that his attendance at the Interstate Stream Commission meeting in Roswell on Wednesday brought him word on the proposed Ute Lake pipeline.

A representative from Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s office informed attendees that an Omnibus Package, which would include funding for the pipeline, might be at the center of a congressional lame duck session in November.

The Ute pipeline would be part of a 152-bill package that would be voted on en masse.

“They’re putting together some valid arguments,” said Crowder of the points in favor of Ute funding.

• The commission approved a request to place a “Welcome to Clovis” sign at Veterans Park. The sign would greet travelers coming into the west side of Clovis on U.S. Highway 60/84.

Similar signs, roughly measuring four-and-a-half feet tall by 11-feet long, are to placed in three other entrance points into the city. Two of those are situated on state-owned land on either end of Prince Street and the third will be placed on a privately-owned lot on Mabry Drive — with the blessing of the current owner.

The four signs will be built at a cost of $25,000, half of which was raised by a local volunteer group. The other half of the sum will be met by in-kind donations in the form of material and construction for the signs themselves.

In an annual report to the city, Clovis Civic Center general manager Neil McMullin said that the facility generated an increase of more than 30 percent in total event income in the most recent fiscal year.

“We were pretty aggressive in regard to the number of events, we wanted 347 and we got 263,” McMullin said. “We were short, but we had some larger events that helped us meet our financial expectations.”