A former Luna County commissioner had tough words for the sitting Board of Commissioners as it held a public forum and ordinance vote on funding Element Power’s planned solar farm.
Fred Williams, who was appointed to the board in 2009, served on the commission when it considered a similar bond ordinance for Element Power’s wind energy farm, which was completed last year. He took issue with the county holding a public forum on the ordinance then immediately holding a vote to approve the ordinance after it, saying the commission did not have adequate public input on the matter.
“I think you’re doing the public a disservice, you have not heard from opposition voices,” he said after detailing “at least three” public hearings were held by the commission he sat on during the lead up to the wind energy project.
He said he does not oppose Element Power’s plan to build a solar energy farm near the Macho Springs Wind Energy Farm – located about 20 miles northeast of the city – but that he was “embarrassed” by the commission’s lack of transparency.
Local resident David Peterson countered, saying a newspaper article was written before the meeting and that he believed “the public has been adequately notified.”
Commissioner Javier Diaz said the inducement for the project began two months ago. The county did approve Resolution 12-29, the inducement mentioned by Diaz, during a May 2012 meeting, but Williams was upset a work session or more public hearings were not held.
Local Ann Shine-Ring recommended the county post fliers around town for future public hearings, adding: “We need to do a better job communicating with the citizens.”
The board ended up unanimously passing Ordinance No. 83, which authorizes the issuance and sale of county industrial revenue bonds for the Macho Springs Solar Project.
The board also unanimously passed, even with reluctance from Chairman Jay Spivey, the multi-services agreement with the city of Deming. The agreement outlines a number of services and payments for services between the two entities. It covers costs for citizens of the city and county to use the library, solid waste management and emergency services, among other items.
Chairman Spivey’s concern came with the solid waste management item. Per the passed agreement, Luna County will pay the city $120,000 so county residents can use the city’s Transfer Station located on Highway 549. His concern was that county citizens paying a private trash hauler to dump trash would be essentially paying more than once for their trash to be dumped through tax money that goes to the city and by their private hauler paying a fee to dump trash, which could be passed on to the consumer.
“If that was in anybody else’s back pocket, they’d call it double-dipping,” he said.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Luna County Courthouse, 700 S. Silver Avenue.