Home News Local News Christmas Railway and Tour de Ocho Millas on track to full council

Christmas Railway and Tour de Ocho Millas on track to full council

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Councilor Jacob Roebuck looks over his packet as Councilor Judy Stubbs shares her view during Finance Committee on Thursday morning. Juanita Jennings (public affairs director), Mayor Dennis Kintigh, Larry Connolly, James Edwards, Becky Hicks and Councilor Steven Henderson observe and listen as Stubbs speaks. Councilor Caleb Grant and Finance Director Monica Garcia sit on the opposite side of the table. (Alison Penn Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Reporter’s note: This article has been edited for clarity.

Lodgers’ tax funding requests for Christmas Railway and Tour de Ocho Millas head to the Roswell City Council for consideration.

Councilor Jacob Roebuck recused himself from voting and excused himself from the room during the discussion about both measures regarding Roebuck Entertainment involvement or services.

The finance committee voted to approve the requested $500 of funding for Tour de Ocho Millas unanimously with Councilor Steve Henderson making the motion after he said he thought the event was appropriate for funding after seeking advice from City Attorney Aaron Holloman on the matter.

Chairman Caleb Grant and Councilor Judy Stubbs voted in favor for the Christmas Railway and Councilor Henderson cast the only opposing vote due to what he read in the New Mexico Governmental Code of Conduct Act.

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For the Christmas Railway set for Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, Juanita Jennings, director of public affairs, shared that the request was for $20,500 and was recommended by the occupancy tax board with a 50 percent reimbursement plan. Jennings said the third year event is estimating for 18,000 attendees with 5000 outside of Chaves County; she said 67 percent of the marketing budget is targeted to attract visitors outside of Roswell.

Prefacing that he is in favor of the event, Henderson said he believes there is a conflict of interest for Councilman Roebuck — since he is the producer of the Christmas Railway and an elected official. Councilor Henderson said he understood the contract was renewed between Roebuck and the city prior to the election — but said next year’s contract will need to be addressed.

In a follow-up phone interview with the Daily Record, Henderson said he looked at the Governmental Conduct Act in section 10-16-2. C for the definition of a contract and 10-16-17. for information contracts with public officials or employees. The Governmental Conduct Act can be viewed through the Attorney General’s website (nmag.gov).

Councilor Grant also said emails from Holloman clarified the scope of the vent and costs of renovations, paid for by the Christmas Railway at Spring River Park & Zoo.

“The problem I have with this is basically the Governmental Conduct Act provides that a public officer is not to benefit from municipal funding,” Henderson said. “That’s the reason I simply have a problem.”

Stubbs made the motion to recommend the motion go to full council on the consent agenda. She explained that she made her motion due to the timing of the Christmas Railway and its successful history. Councilor Grant seconded the motion and the motion’s final vote was 2 to 1 with Henderson opposing.

First sharing information on the cycling event at Bottomless State Park, Jennings said the occupancy tax board recommended the city can offer $500 from the lodgers’ tax with a reimbursement basis of 50 percent of that amount in eligible marketing expenses.

Braxton Fulkerson said the Tour de Ocho Millas benefits a program called Reflections Recovery that helps community members with addictions, and their families, transition to healthy lifestyles. Fulkerson asked the council to consider funding the full $2,000 because it was a major source of income for the program.

Fulkerson shared that the event coordinators plan on promoting regionally and that the date has been moved to Sept. 22 instead of Sept. 8. Jennings said the event is anticipating around 200 attendees, including 50 from outside of Chaves County.

During public participation, Larry Connolly asked questions about the city’s properties and Rita Kane-Doerhoefer shared documents and letters from the city regarding the Christmas Railway.

“My big question was number 16 of this contract and it says, ‘Neither Roebuck or any of its employees, members, officers, contractors or agents are employees of the city and are not entitled to any benefits from the city,’” Kane-Doerhoefer said.

Kane-Doerhoefer referred to another document pertaining to the city councilors’ salaries and said Roebuck was on the list.

In other business, Roswell Symphony Orchestra’s measure was not passed since the vote tied with Stubbs and Roebuck voting in approval and Grant and Henderson opposing. The committee has its usual reports and Finance Director Monica Garcia presented information on the Tyler Software to assist with the city budget.

Bill Morris, community development director, presented a scope of services for a request for proposals (RFP) for real estate services for around 360 city properties. The committee unanimously approved the measure.

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