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Finance committee signs on for ‘signature events’

City Manager Joe Neeb shares a presentation on signature events to the Finance Committee on Thursday evening. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee determined signature events that will receive in-kind funding and assistance from the City on Thursday evening.

City Councilors present were Chair Caleb Grant, Steve Henderson, Judy Stubbs and Jacob Roebuck. Councilor Roebuck made the motion and Councilor Stubbs seconded by adding an amendment to consider each event’s impact on economic development and number of visitors brought to the city.

The resolution was approved unanimously with an amendment for the governing body to consider the events on an annual basis.

City Manager Joe Neeb said this resolution would allow a process for accounting for the costs to the City. The committee went into a discussion on how to formally identify these signature events, which are the following for this year: Eastern New Mexico State Fair, Cinco de Mayo and Balloon Rally, Hike It & Spike It and the UFO festival. Since these events kick off in May, the governing body decided on this action to send this item to this month’s full City Council meeting.

In-kind services include the police department, fire department, transit, special services, code enforcement, sanitation, streets, special electronics and parks and recreation. Neeb said these special events can be all hands on deck situations and he wants to ensure as City Manager that he has authority to pull these people from their jobs in order to assist with signature events.

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Neeb said the funding for this year’s signature events is $60,800 in-kind services alone, but the total will be $106,900.

Neeb said no hard numbers applied to the resolution and the City has offered in-kind funds and assistance to these selected events in the past. Neeb said the decision making ‘got out of the corral’ in the past and the City has decided to return the decision-making process into the will of the Council.

“That’s kind of why we are here is to try to see the true cost of what these events were costing us because we were really pretty blind to that two or three years ago really,” Councilor Grant said.

Juanita Jennings, Director of Public Affairs, said all of the municipalities in New Mexico do not provide in-kind services the way the City of Roswell does. Jennings said an event organizer is asked to fill out the special event application form to understand what the needs are, which led to the selection of the in-kind events, and then the application goes to the special event team for review.

“We want to make sure that these events can stand on their own — or at least be working in that direction,” Neeb said. “If we always have to come in and shore them up, is that an event that’s actually benefitting the community as a whole? That’s the thing that we struggled with before. So what we want to do is make sure that they don’t fall apart — because these are great events that we have, but we also want them to go out and work a little bit harder at finding private sponsors to run the event. That’s where I think now we have more people that believe in that event rather than the city saying ‘You need to believe in this event.’”

Councilor Roebuck suggested continuing to define how signature events gained their titles, which Councilor Stubbs added that the event’s influence on the gross receipts tax and lodgers tax be set in the definition.

Considering locals, Councilor Roebuck read a Chinese proverb, which said, “Make happy those who are near. Those who are far will come.” Roebuck asked the City to have a larger conversation about keeping locals happy and creating a solid definition for signature events in the future.

City Attorney Aaron Holloman said each event will have to meet requirements for the state’s anti-donation clause and this resolution will encourage these events to log tangible metrics of the return on investment to the city and their annual growth.

City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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