Capital outlay wish list cut

Robin Fornoff

It was back to the drawing board Saturday for Curry County Commissioners, who said they were told by state legislators to trim their wish list or face possibly getting no money from the state.

Commissioners had submitted a $21 million capital outlay request to the state in September.

The request was trimmed to $2.4 million during a special meeting Saturday at the request of County Manager Lance Pyle after meetings with local legislators.

Commissioner Caleb Chandler said during meetings earlier in the week in Santa Fe, local lawmakers said getting the Legislature to approve a smaller amount would be far more realistic than the original request.

Chairman Wendell Bostwick was more blunt.

“Not only will they shoot it down,” Bostwick said of the original request, “they’ll laugh you right out the door.”

Pyle said requests for the annual state money should be to help fund projects that benefit health, safety and security.

Commissioner Frank Blackburn said the change concerned him because the original request placed an emphasis on repairing and resurfacing county roads. Pyle concurred that many county roads are in desperate need of repair.

Pyle’s trimmed request included $500,000 for road work and $1 million for land acquisition around Cannon Air Force Base.

Other items on the capital outlay request:

• $500,000 for improvements, renovation and equipment at the jail

• $300,000 for courthouse renovation and improvements

• $100,000 for improvements and renovations to the old main post office building at 417 Gidding St.

Bostwick also announced remaining money promised the county by the state for expansion of the former Melrose Bombing Range should amount to about $1.5 to $1.7 million.

Bostwick said $2.7 million of $5 million committed to expansion at Cannon was used under a lease agreement signed Wednesday between the state and the Air Force. The agreement creates the Melrose Air Force Range and expands the bombing range by about 11,000 acres.

Bostwick said a variety of other costs reduced the $5 million state set aside money even more. He said the final amount coming to the county should be at least $1.5 million and could be expected in about 30 days.

Commissioners plan to use the money toward property acquisition associated with closing Curry Road R near the base.

Commissioners also approved a $49,500 agreement with Paul C. Reed Architects for expansion and renovation of the jail, which they plan to pay for with a special $9.3 million bond issue voters are being asked to approve on April 3.