By Marty Mayfield
The Raton City Commission settled in for what would be a long meeting with a lot of information and important agenda items for the Tuesday, May 24th meeting.
Commissioners heard from Michael Reeves on the accomplishments of the Ports-to-Plains projects which has expanded its coverage from Canada to Mexico. The initial route was from Laredo, Texas to Denver, Colorado but has now expanded and helps move product from several agricultural and energy states. One thing Reeves noted the state will need to work on is a Freight Mobility plan which will help with future funding.
Commissioners approved the JJAC budget adjustment for balancing out things for end of the year. They followed that up approving the CYFD Agreement which relates to the Juvenile Justice Grant Program.
Commissioners then approved the introduction of an ordinance to establish new water and sewer rates. Part of this increase is to help cover costs associated with regulatory issues. The city has seen an increase of 37% in chemical costs due to using more chemical to meet new and higher water quality standards. Testing to meet those standards will increase by about 50% according to Dan Campbell, Manager of the Raton Water Works. (Link to Water Rate Increase PDF)
The increases will amount to about $3.20 for a typical household which amounts to a bill going from about $40.00 to $43.86 for both water and sewer. Campbell also noted that the staff at the Water Department has dropped from 26 to 19 employees and those employees have 230 years of combined experience.
Commissioners approved the union contract with the Raton Police Department which will give officers and dispatchers a 2% pay increase in each of the next four years the contract covers. According to City Manager Scott Berry, the contract is basically the same as in the past years.
The city has once again approved a contract with WM Serazio Construction for street and drainage work. This will allow the city to do street or curb and gutter work in conjunction with the water department and have a set cost structure.
Commissioners approved Hal Brewer’s appointment to the Library Board and appointed Richard Gertler to the planning and zoning board. They reappointed Kerry Medina to the personnel board along with new appointments of Terry Baca and Lance Romero.
Commissioners tabled the MOU with the Chamber of Commerce based on a lack of financial reporting. According to Paul Jenkins they believed they were supposed to report their financials to the lodger’s tax board and were reminded the agreement is with the city not the lodger’s tax board and that commissioners wanted to know where and what the money is being used for.
Vivienne Van Sweden filled in commissioners on the activities the Chamber is involved in such as distributing welcome bags and handling about 15-20 requests a week for information on Raton. Commissioner Ron Chavez requested that the Chamber develop a training for or help for businesses, like motel and restaurants, to train employees on things to do in Raton. It has come to the attention of commissioners that some employees often respond to the question of what is there to do in Raton by saying there is nothing to do – despite the effort of the Chamber to email a calendar of events weekly to over 500 businesses and people in Raton.
Commissioners approved the Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board recommendation to give Raton Rodeo $5000 and KOB TV $8,185.50 to do about three days of video work covering local places in Raton. The video will be used on their Good Day New Mexico program and allow the city use of that video for promotional uses.
Commissioners heard from Raton Arts and Humanities, Raton MainStreet and Raton Museum for funding. Each group gave an overview of their activities and will also provide financials of their work. Commissioners approved giving each organization 50% of their requests for now and will revisit the requests later in the year if they find that lodgers tax continues to increase. Michael Ann Antonucci informed commissioners that lodgers tax had increased by 14% so far this year.
As she moved into the spotlight with the financial report, Antonucci also brought more good news in that the gross receipts tax was up in March by about $20,000 over last year. While it was a good increase it still hasn’t caught up with the deficit the city has seen up to this point.
Commissioners approved the financial report and a short budget adjustment which takes into account the changed LEDA funding account and moving some lodgers tax money.
Antonucci told commissioners she would make the changes to the budget that had been made earlier in the meeting and would get them the final sheets before sending the now approved interim budget to DFA for their approval. The final budget will then be finalized and sent in for final approval in July. (Links to Financial Report April 2016 Budget Adjustment #12)
Commissioners approved the bid from D&H United for $107,878 for phase two of the fuel farm and other work at the airport.
Commissioners approved a $25,000 loan from the New Mexico Environment Department in order to get the $225,000 grant for the transfer station. Mayor Mantz suggested paying off the loan early with monies from the enterprise fund.
Commissioners then approved BTU’s bid for hauling solid waste to Fountain, Colorado. There is also a diesel fuel adjustment clause in the contract. The bid totaled $102,850 which is $374 per load which was lower than Arthur Roll Off or the Ciganovich Construction bid.
City Manager Scott Berry kept his comments short due to the late hour but told commissioners that he will meet with BNSF on May 31 about the depot. On June 1, the Army Corp of Engineers will be here to look over the Segerstrom Creek water shed project.
Commissioners will meet again on June 14, 2016 which will be broadcast on KRTN AM 1490. It was also noted that city offices will be closed on May 30, 2016 for the Memorial Day Holiday.