LOVINGTON — For about 25 minutes the Lovington City Commission debated the pros and cons to letting the county take over the responsibility, and cost, of the city’s trash collection facility.
The discussion-only item to transfer the seven acres of the convenience station to Lea County, where in turn the county would build a new transfer facility and waste station that would be open seven days a week for residents around Lovington to dump at no cost, took up the majority of the commission meeting Monday.
Lovington Police Chief David Rodriguez presented before the commission with the intention of looking for a direction from the commission as to whether they want to move forward on.
Commissioner Scotty Gandy said he agrees with the county coming in and taking over the convenience center but does not agree with giving up property in the process.
“I don’t know if this is a real good move for us as far trading off property here,” Gandy said. “Now if the county is willing to throw in a few bucks into the mix and make it a little more interesting, I’m interested. But I’m not against closing the facility down.”
Based on his calculations, keeping the facility open and running costs the City of Lovington approximately $10,000 a month to continue as is, Gandy added.
“We can close the facility and save $10,000 a month and not lose our property,” Gandy said. “We have buildings and things like that we utilize during different projects, so I don’t see it being a real win-win situation because at another time, later on, we’ll have to buy higher property and build buildings and things that’ll cost us more money in the long run.”
Commissioner Scott Boldt said he agrees with Gandy as far as not giving up property the city owns.
Rodriguez explained the county wants the whole property, and not have it divided, so they can demolish existing buildings and start new.
“The plan that they have is to demolish the existing buildings because they are obviously outdated and build them a new facility for their employees, office space, as well as rearranging the layout of the facility itself and to bring in road equipment material that is stored in Hobbs, back to the county,” Rodriguez said.
Lovington Mayor David Trujillo said the county plans on moving the entire road department as well to the facility should the commission agree to approve the measure and plans on “pumping” $600,000 into that facility for a remodel.
THE POSSIBILITY OF DIVIDING the property was brought up, but according to Rodriguez, the county made it clear there was no way for the county to justify spending that amount of money on a facility they would not own.
“I understand but the county still has some property somewhere close to Loving-ton,” Gandy debated.
Wyatt Duncan, City of Lovington public works director, explained he agrees losing land would not be feasible for the city at this point in time because his streets department would end up losing five acres of storage they’ve used for years.
Duncan explained if the city completely closed down the facility they would continue to see an increase in dumping and trash out on lots and roads and added it was originally discussed with the county to split the property with the streets department, but after some thought the county did not agree.
“I did talk to Mr. Jackson and Mike Gallagher about possibly doing a land swap and they said they would not,” Duncan said. “They said it was more of a take over the facility and couldn’t help us out on that.
“ We did bring up that originally it was just splitting the convenience station right down the middle and leave the street department over there. That was one of the things the county said they would not be interested in because they would like to bring the road department over here due to the area being in the middle of the county.”
Trujillo noted the only thing that leans him towards saying yes on the county coming in and taking over is the convenience for the community at seven days a week.
Trujillo agreed if the city closed the facility and did not allow the county to take it over, there would be an increase in trash around the city and on county roads.
Gandy balked at that idea noting the county could start fresh on a piece of property they already own.
“YOU’VE GOT TO LOOK AT IT like this, they’re going to spend $600,000, they’re going to tear down our facility,” Gandy said. “Why not start with a new piece of property that they already own that’s fairly close to the community?”
Trujillo rebutted that the city has plenty of acreage and the seven acre site would be something the city could give up to have an amenity provided for the community.
“Seven acres, I mean we’ve got twenty-something hundred acres right there south of Lovington, plus a ton of acreage and facilities right here in town that we can use to make up the difference,” Trujillo said. “If the county doesn’t charge our community for seven days a week, and they can go out there and dump, it’s a win.”
Gandy said he still doesn’t agree and by giving up that parcel of land city employees will have to drive and put mileage on city vehicles to bring equipment in. He also mentioned offering to the county other acreage the city has in other areas, but Rodriguez said the city would still have to subdivide the property — which the city does not have the money to do.
Commissioner Paul Campos said rather than the city continuing to lose money on the facility he believes the takeover would be a win, and the city needs to cut their losses and do what’s best for residents.
Duncan said if the city decides to move forward on allowing the county to take over the site, he foresees it taking a year for the city to save up and find a facility to use as a supplement to where their street department was previously located.
The commission ultimately decided to put the decision as an action item for the next city commission meeting and discuss the issue further on Sept. 27.