Publication Date: 03/11/08
HASTINGS Hastings elected officials listened to proposals to de-charter their town but didn't take any action to make it happen at their Town Commission meeting Monday.
"We can't keep surviving like this. What's happening to Hastings?" asked Jane Rogero, an area resident whose mother lives in the small southwest farming community.
She answered her question, saying that commissioners had quit caring about the citizens, and citizens had quit caring about what the commission did.
That drew protests from Mayor Tom Ward and Commissioner Jeannette Bradley, both saying they cared about Hastings and its people.
The de-charter proposal was sparked by a vote by the commission in January to approve a 30 percent in hike in the town's water rate. Commissioners said it was necessary in order to pay off bonds and to keep the town from going broke.
"I can't believe we got so broke," Rogero said. "We need to come up with a better plan; we need to come up with some changes."
Businessman Johnny Barnes told commissioners that the needed change was to get rid of the town.
"Do I have solutions for all these issues?" Barnes asked. "I'm asking this commission to put a referendum on the ballot and let the people vote."
Barnes and Ward ended up in a heated exchange.
Barnes wanted the commission to go ahead and put the issue on the November ballot. After that, he said, there would be plenty of time to hold meetings and discussions before the vote.
Ward said information and town meetings need to be held before anything goes on the ballot.
"I have been trying to do some research. Nobody's got any numbers," Ward said.
County Commissioner Ron Sanchez was in the audience and said the county was not there to get involved in the business of Hastings.
"I can't offer any suggestions (as to whether) the county could do anything cheaper with water and sewer," Sanchez said.
"You're trying to catch up on things that should have been done," Sanchez said, adding that was the same situation he faced in his first year on the county board.
Several citizens spoke during the public hearing section, raising questions about what costs might come up if the county took over and asking for more information and discussion about the dechartering proposal.
Ward said he was putting together a committee to research the issue.
"This can't go away until we've got some numbers we can understand," he said.
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