By Marty Mayfield
Raton City Commissioners approved the expenditure of just over $29,000 for matching funds for a Cops Grant for a School Resource officer in the Raton Schools.
The City will pickup the $29,097 in matching funds for a COPS grant to fund a school resource officer in the Raton Schools. The problem however that may plague this is staffing issues. According to Raton Police Chief John Garcia he will have three officers going to the academy in January and one officer will start a military deployment in August that will run through May 2018. Garcia noted it will be tough at times but he feels it is important enough to give it a go. Raton Schools Superintendent Andy Ortiz wants to see the officer in the schools for educational purposes and to improve relations with the police department. The grant states that the officer must spend 75% of his time in the schools or on school related activities.
This will be the fourth year this has been attempted as City Manager Scott Berry noted that they are out of extensions on this grant and if they cannot fulfil it the grant will have to be returned. The Grant is for one officer for three years at a total of over $100,000.
Commissioners approved the closing of Park Ave from the Alley in front of the VFW to first Street for a street dance July 4th.
Commissioners then approved the additional $60,000 of grant money for the great blocks project. They State had held up $60,000 from a capitol appropriations grant that had been approved last year.
Commissioners heard from City Treasurer Michael Anne Antonucci on budget adjustments for June. She then went over the May 2017 financial report which once again shows an increase in gross receipts taxes by 4.8%. It was also noted that the city has managed to operate under budget and for the year and with the increase in GRT the city will see a slight reserve going into the next fiscal year. (Link to the Budget Adjustment#15) (Link to the Financial Report May2017)
Commissioners then approved a $8,000 Lodger’s Tax request from The Center for Sustainable Community to do digital marketing services to advertise Raton. Jeff Peterson and Jessica Barfield told the commissioners about the success they have had so far with the project. Barfield has attained a grant from Google to do much of the work they have done so far. Barfield noted that analytical tools have indicated that the Explore Raton web sites have seen 145,000 hits with 4,500 click through to other web sites about Raton. She noted that Google wants to see at least a 1% click through rate currently they are seeing a 3.77% click through rate. They also hope to be able to help local motels with booking rooms instead of the more well-known booking sites that charge as much as 20% for each room booked.
Peterson wants to run the ads and marketing for 90 days and then come back to the Lodger’s Tax board and commissioners with a full report and see what they can do from there with more funding.
Berry told commissioners they should start work on the chip seal project with one minor problem. The city was going to purchase aggregate on the state purchasing contract however the vendor that had the contract is not on the state contract any longer and the new vendor will sell the aggregate for a slightly higher price. So the project will be scaled back and should begin in July.
In the city manager’s report Berry noted the audit process has begun and should go into November this year. Bids will be going out for the Taxiway projects at the airport and the Troy Street fire station is complete and renovations on the Clark Street station have begun as Firefighters work out of the Troy Street station.
Berry noted that the insurance carrier for the city buildings has authorized a contractor to begin work on repairing some of the more critical roof problems to prevent or fix leaks that have occurred with recent rains.
They have also received the funding for the Hospital Drive project and after some design work is done and bids are let the project will likely begin next spring or summer. Pat Vigil will retire from the city effective this Friday and Berry wanted to thank him for all the hard work he has put in over the last 26 years with the city.
The next regular meeting will be July 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the commission chambers.