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PEDC board OKs utility fund transfer

 

Pecos Economic Development Corp. board members agreed to the transfer of $250,000 from their cash reserves to the Town of Pecos City, to help pay for a project to upgrade utilities south of Interstate 20 along U.S. 285.

The PEDC board approved shifting funds to the estimated $850,000 project, which will allow for future business development along U.S. 285 south of the interstate. Construction has recently begun on Target Logistics' workforce housing, and a Love's Truck Stop is also planned for the area, but board members were told the water and sewer lines currently in the area couldn’t handle any additional business develop- ment.

PEDC President Bill Oglesby said he was asked by city manager Fred Reyes and public works director Edgardo Madrid if the corporation could help the city out on the project. He also said the funds would come in part from money gained through lot sales of city land marketed by the PEDC along Highway 17, where the PEDC had been paying for the infrastructure improvements.

Oglesby said the PEDC currently has about $350,000 in reserve funds, and is expecting that number to increase, due to the increase in sales tax funds it receives as its quarter-cent share of Pecos' 1 1/2-cent sales tax. “We should have some sales of real estate before the end of the year that should amount to $100,000, so we should have plenty of cash,” he added.

Board president Leo Hung noted the PEDC already had paid the city $32,000.

“This is going to change our original agreement with them,” Hung said, adding he was in favor of the new funds transfer.

“Basically, we're going to pay them $250,000 and we're going to keep any of the future (Highway 17) land sales, to give us some cash flow,” Oglesby said.

“Is there a timetable on the transfer?” new board member Grace Omitogun asked. “Can we transfer the $250,000 in such a way that we will have a (balance) amount that will be sufficient until the sale of other properties?”

Reyes said the city would first have to go through the bid process before any contract could be awarded, and Madrid added, “It's going to be 4-5 months before we can get to the possible payment.” City Attorney Scott Johnson said the funds could be transferred on an 'as needed' basis. “We should be able to build up significant funds before that transfer is necessary,” he said.

Madrid said the new sewer line would run from the city's lift station near the Quality Inn on the north side of I-20 under the highway, while the water line would have to be extended under I-20 from near U.S. 285 at Lincoln Street.

“Currently, what we have is a 6-inch water line and a 6-inch sewer line,” Madrid said. “They can provide the services for Love's Truck Stop and Target Logistics. But if another company wants to come in that area and develop something, we're not going to be able to provide service until we have these upgrades.” Board member Tony Trujillo noted the current sewer line in the area has had backflow problems, but Madrid said the line has been cleaned and workers on the Target Logistics project haven't found any problems with connecting up their new lines from the workforce housing on County Road 116.

“Without infrastructure, you're not going to get anymore business,” Trujillo said.

Oglesby said most of the land south of U.S. 285 remains Reeves County property. The county sold the city the land just south of I-20 for the PEDC to market, so that under state law competitive bidding was not required for the land sales.

“If we build in the cost of this infrastructure I'm hoping that the price of the land will go up, and those proceeds will come back somehow to the city or the EDC,” Oglesby said. He noted that new infrastructure on Highway 17 has sharply raised the price of lots sold there in the past year.

“The way we are now if we don't bore and put in new lines on the south side of the Interstate, we can forget about any more development on the south side of the Interstate,” Oglesby said. “There are still people coming in asking about developing new motels and other stuff along 285 ... until we get those new lines under, there can be no more development on the south side of the Interstate.”

He said the only spare capacity the city currently has is on the far west side of Pecos, where the existing infrastructure usage is low enough to handle new business development. A company looking to add a new workforce housing location is interested in land near Highway 17 just outside the Pecos city limits.

Madrid said further south off Highway 17 near the Reeves County Detention Center, sewer line capacity problems also could limit development of another workforce housing site. He said the city is working to expand an eight-inch line through Maxey Park to 12 inches and repair another bore under I-20 to slightly increase sewer capacity.

Long-term, the city is looking to build a new 24-inch sewer line from Seventh and Cedar streets west to Washington Street, and then south along Texas Street to the area south of I-20. But Madrid said that project would cost about $3 million.

“We can double the size of this town and handle it with that pipe,” he said, but for now the area along Highway 17 is limited to only the planned new industrial lots the PEDC is marketing.
“Once we finish with the industrial park, we're not going to be able to upgrade anything until we upgrade the sewer collectors,” Madrid said.

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