A leading fiscal voice on the Roswell City Council who has laid the framework for the city’s budgets in recent years has announced he is running for re-election, becoming the second of five city councilors up for re-election to declare their intentions.
City councilor Caleb Grant said he is seeking a second four-year term representing Ward 2, the city’s most northern ward – principally north of Country Club Road – to continue city infrastructure projects.
“Unfortunately, it takes a long time to get those projects going,” Grant said of infrastructure projects underway, including air center upgrades, new water meters citywide, a new recreation center and aquatic facility, and an expansion of the city’s convention and civic center. “There’s still a lot that needs to be done. A lot that has been improved upon.”
Grant said demolishing the former municipal airport was another significant improvement achieved in his first term. In March 2014, Grant first won election to the City Council when he easily defeated Jerry Heck and James MacCornack with 67 percent of the votes cast to succeed former city councilor Jimmy Craig.
Grant, who serves on the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee and who was chosen mayor pro tem by his City Council colleagues in 2016, said tackling aging infrastructure has been a primary concern.
“The biggest thing though is trying to continue to improve on the efficiencies in the services the city provides,” he said. “Government is pretty inefficient.”
Grant, 32, born and raised in Roswell and a 2004 graduate of Goddard High School, is chairman of the Republican Party of Chaves County and a Farm Bureau Financial Services agent. He has chaired the City Council’s Finance Committee all four years of his first term.
City spending has increased by about one-third in the last four years, from a $110,544,316 budget in fiscal year 2014-15 to the current budget of $146,493,825 for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Like Mayor Dennis Kintigh, Grant attributes the growth in spending to a spurt in infrastructure projects underway, including the $23 million recreation and aquatics center, on which ground was broken this week, the $21 million citywide water meter replacement project and the $7 million convention center expansion.
“This last year is kind of a bit different because that includes the two bond projects, one for the water meter project … obviously the other one is the recreation center project,” Grant said. “We had a lot of infrastructure that wasn’t addressed.”
Grant said the city’s operating budget for police, fire and other departments has remained fairly constant.
“The last couple years we’ve had some huge grant money for redoing the air center runway, so there’s been a lot of activity and infrastructure projects,” he said. “That’s why you’re seeing some of that increase in budget.”
Grant said governmental entities spend “different colors of money” that must be spent in certain areas, such as a $2.50 convention center fee the city implemented in November 2013 for every daily hotel/motel room rental in the city that must be used for improvements to the convention center. Revenues from the “bed tax” are separate from the city’s 5 percent lodgers tax, which is also imposed at city hotels and motels, and which must be used to promote tourism and conventions.
“We’re very restricted as far as what can be used for what,” he said.
Grant said he wants to serve a second term on the City Council to continue tackling infrastructure needs and to promote efficient, transparent governmental spending. He said he’s only missed two meetings of the City Council in his first term.
Grant said his passion is finances and he hopes to continue to chair the City Council’s Finance Committee.
“I’ve spent a lot of time working with the finance department,” he said.
Grant said the city’s top three priorities are infrastructure, economic development and crime.
“They are all intertwined together,” he said. “I think absolutely our air center is the top asset because it has the biggest opportunity to drive the economic development.”
City councilor Natasha Mackey is the other city councilor who has announced her intentions, declaring her candidacy for mayor instead of running for re-election to her Ward 1 seat.
Ward 3 incumbent Art Sandoval, Ward 4 city councilor Jason Perry and Ward 5 incumbent Tabitha Denny have not yet publicly announced their intentions. The mayor’s position is also up for election in March.
The filing day for municipal candidates is Jan. 9. The nonpartisan elections are March 6, with early voting beginning Feb. 14.
Editor Jeff Tucker can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at email@example.com.