The Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation has refused to disclose its budget to the public and elected leaders. On this edition of Pronews 7 Investigates: Transparency in Tucumcari, we looked at this non-profit that is funded with public money and reviewed if they are required to disclose their budget to the public.
Tucumcari is a town that is has seen more prosperous times. The Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation or EDC for short, was created to reverse economic decline, and is funded with public money.
Quay County Commissioner Sue Dowell made it known publically that she was voting no on approving the county budget because of one line item??the 50 thousand dollars that was to be given to the Tucumcari EDC. She said she has concerns about the county??s relationship with the EDC. ??For them to ask me to approve 50 thousand dollars to anybody of taxpayer money without a contract, service agreement, transparency, or guidelines on how they were going to be accountable; I could not vote in favor of doing that,?? said Dowell.
It remains unclear whether the EDC has a service contract with the county. Pronews 7 was only able to obtain the contract that the EDC has with the city. Commissioner Dowell kept on digging into the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation??s status with the state, and found that their state license was not current.
??I also had further communication with the secretary of state??s office and found out that for about three years they had not done the filing they needed to do to be in good standing with the state,?? said Dowell.
The EDC is funded with public money, from both Quay County and the city of Tucumcari.
Pronews 7 reached out to Patrick Vanderpool, the president of the Tucumcari EDC . When he didn??t return our phone calls, we filed an open records request. We soon received a two page letter that was drafted in consultation with the city??s attorney that said that they could not fulfill our request. Mr. Vanderpool said in letter to Pronews 7 that he would be willing to meet with us, but he did not make himself available.
We later reached out to the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation, an equivalent New Mexico EDC to see if they would be willing to disclose their budget to the public. While Chase Gentry of the CIDC told Pronews 7 that EDC??s in New Mexico are not subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act, they immediately shared their current budget with little hesitation or delay.
The Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce is led by Patsy Gresham, who is a non-voting member of the Tucumcari EDC. She told Pronews 7 that confidentiality is sometimes important at the EDC when negotiating business transactions, but that most of the business they carry out is approved by the county and the city, and is public record.
??I don??t know why there would be a need for non-disclosure because the big money, if you want to say it that way, the money comes from the city,?? said Gresham.
The Mayor of Tucumcari, Robert Lumpkin, told Pronews 7 that he believes in open government.
??I totally believe in disclosure,?? said Lumpkin. ??Being open to showing documentation and budgets and the generation operations of EDC is public information.??
On Pronews 7 investigates: Transparency in Tucumcari Part II, we??ll follow what happened when Commissioner Sue Dowell attempted to get a hold of records from the EDC, and what other county commissioners and the county manager have to say about this controversy.