By Marty Mayfield
The Raton City Commission had a busy meeting for its regular session on Tuesday, May 23rd as it approved the interim budget of $12.8 million for the city, $3.8 million Raton Water Works interim budget and the $5.8 million interim budget for Raton Public Service for the fiscal 2017-18 year. These budgets will be finalized and sent into the state by the June 1st deadline.
Commissioner Don Giacomo after a short discussion about funding Raton Mainstreet suggested that commissioners fund the organization at 80% of the $40,000 Mainstreet requested. The Biennial Agreement states the organization should receive $35,000 a year. Commissioner Schuster suggested $36,000 noting the need for at least a small raise, but Raton Mainstreet was funded for $35,000 while Raton Arts and Humanities asked for $18,000 and was funded at $14,400. It was noted that Brenda Ferri works as director for both Raton Mainstreet and Raton Arts and Humanities Council. These positions in many communities have two people holding these positions.
Raton Museum requested $35,000 this year and again Commissioner Giacomo moved to fund them at 80% or about $28,000 with commissioner Schuster asking for $30,000. Commissioner Giacomo rescinded his motion and voted for the $30,000.
Commissioners heard from Raton Water Works General Manager Dan Campbell about the yearlong process they were going through to get this USDA Grant / Loan for work on the filter plant and water treatment plant. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2,583,000. The loan will cover $1,754,000 with grant monies covering $829,000 of the project. In his report, City Manager Scott Berry said there will be an annual dam inspection on the Lake Maloya Dam this week.
Robert Walton, GM for Raton Public Service, told the commission that the new electrical generation unit is expected to be commissioned on Tuesday, May 30. Walton said the unit will be put through numerous tests and scenarios to make sure that it functions properly and when needed.
Commissioners also approved the Shuler Theater Digital Film project at $114,000. The city has received a grant for $100,000 and Raton Mainstreet secured another $10,000 grant. City Manager Scott Berry noted the additional funds will come out of reserves and be split with the Shuler Restoration Committee.
Commissioners then approved the April 2017 financial report that included more good news as the city continues to work below budget and the GRT was up 5.06%. (Link toFinancial Report Apr 2017) They also approved budget adjustment #13 for FY17.
Commissioners heard from Dee Burks about the MOU with the Raton Chamber.
Melissa Grubelnik has been hired as the new tourism coordinator and Burks notes that the Chamber is going to be more of a partner instead of a competitor with local organizations and business to help promote local events and get people into the local businesses. Burks also learned of an Enchanted 8 Road Trips program that the state tourism department is launching in the near future. It features a tour around Northeastern New Mexico called True Adventure Seekers which will travel from Clayton through Raton to Angel Fire. She noted that the Chamber will be working with a group out of Albuquerque that has restored an old steam engine and is planning to use it to make the trip from Albuquerque to La Junta. The Chamber is planning to do what they can to help this out since it will be primarily used for tourism. Burks told the commission that the direction of the chamber has shifted and they no longer will plan events, but will shift to finding organizations that would want to come to Raton, with the NM Lions Club and the recent doTerra meeting as examples of partnerships the chamber wants to help with. The MOU with the chamber was approved.
Scott Berry noted he had been to the NM Armory Board meeting and they are still dealing with the lead abatement issue for the Doss Aviation building and so there was no action taken on the running lease for the building. Berry also went to a State Mainstreet meeting where they talked about business recruitment.
This year the annual fireworks display will cost $11,500 which is a bump up from last year.
Commissioners will meet again on June 13 at 6:00 p.m. for their next regular meeting.