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Kintigh discusses affordable housing, RFP process

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Mayor Dennis Kintigh speaks from dais at one of the Roswell City Council monthly meetings. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh visited the Roswell Daily Record office last week for a conversation with RDR staff, part of a series of interviews focused on issues impacting the city and its residents.

RDR reporters Alison Penn, Lisa Dunlap, sports editor JT Keith and editor John Dilmore asked Kintigh questions raised by RDR staff and the public.

The first part of this interview appeared in the Dec. 20 edition of the RDR. Part one can be seen here. The following are additional excerpts from the interview, edited for length and clarity:

Editor’s Note: The 2019 session of the New Mexico Legislature began last week. Among the measures lawmakers are expected to consider is legislation creating an independent airport authority to oversee operations of the Roswell International Air Center. Similar legislation passed overwhelmingly last session, but previous Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed it. Current Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has indicated she’ll support it. Last week, legislation that would allow creation of an air authority was included in the so-called “rocket docket” — a group of bills set to be fast-tracked through the legislative process.

RDR: In regard to the air authority bill, it has been said that just because the legislation creating the authority is enacted, that doesn’t mean the authority has to be formed. Could it be enacted — and then the nuts and bolts figured out later?

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Kintigh: Well, the problem with that is, if it’s flawed, why even pass it? The numbers that we’ve had over and over again are that there’s revenue flowing from the city, whether it’s the general fund or the enterprise funds, to the airport to support its operations. In particular, the water enterprise fund.

If this creates an independent political subdivision, which is the wording in the bill, that’s not going to happen anymore. That can’t happen.

So, how are they going to make payroll? If you want to create something that’s not able to sustain itself — and candidly, I’m not saying “Don’t have an authority.’ I’m saying, “Don’t create one that’s going to starve.”

RDR: On the issue of affordable housing — the city is trying make it more attractive to developers to create affordable housing. Has there been any progress on that?

Kintigh: You know, it’s interesting. The term now, I’m told, is workforce housing.

Bill Moore is our city planner. This is something that’s near and dear to Bill’s heart, and he has been very aggressively looking at areas where we could develop this, and one of the more creative concepts I’ve seen come (from) Bill Moore is where the old Yucca (Recreation Center) was. The city owns that block. It’s not going to be vacant. What do you do with it?

Editor’s note: The Roswell City Council in August approved demolition of the 108-year-old Yucca Recreation Center, at 500 S. Richardson Ave. Crews are in the process of tearing down the building.

Kintigh: We’ve been watching different things kicked around, but I think the thing I found most appealing is an affordable workforce housing complex there. That is actually a residential neighborhood, and it would fit there. I think it would have a positive impact in that neighborhood because there’s parts of it, that’s a little bit rough, and those are the kinds of things we want to see fleshed out. I know Bill is very serious about trying to move that forward. Now, how you package this with all the appropriate incentives and benefits from the federal government for building that? I’m not the expert on (that).

But one of our challenges is this, and the city manager and I have talked about this over and over again: We have a lot of areas around town here that are empty lots, and how do you encourage infill, because right there at the curb is the sewer, there’s the water, there’s the gas, there’s electric. We don’t need to build a brand-new subdivision, they’re already there — and yet candidly, some of these are in rough parts of town. So, how does it become viable to build it … next to a property, or across the street from a property that is, shall we say, marginal at best? How do we overcome that?

I’m hoping to hear any great ideas, so that we can encourage the infill throughout this community. It’s cheaper than building a brand-new subdivision.

Editor’s note: Some members of the Extraterritorial Zoning Commission and Extraterritorial Zoning Authority, during meetings of those bodies last year, were vocal about the need to demolish dilapidated structures — or clean up properties containing debris — that are fronting major roads in and out of the city.

RDR: What is being done with the Extraterritorial Zoning (ETZ) ordinances? One goal that has been mentioned is trying to beautify some of those properties.

Kintigh: We need to revisit that and we just haven’t done it yet.

I agree with the idea of cleaning up those properties that are adjacent to the city in the classic areas along South Main, going down to the airport. Now, I’m a big advocate for removing derelict structures. I want to make sure there’s clarity as to the authority of city personnel to do any building inspection. I want to know clearly who has the authority to condemn, if it’s not inside the city limits. I don’t see us having that, even if it’s in the ETZ.

So, does the county do that? If the county does that and it’s demolished and hauled to the landfill, understand that revenue stream comes from customers of our landfill. In other words, our city trash you pay on your water bill — there’s a section for sanitation. So, are we providing a service to people outside the city limits who don’t pay into this? I don’t know.

I would like some clarity there. But, (if) we get those issues clarified, I’m supportive of the idea of cleaning things up, absolutely. It’s just, I worry about the city being left holding the bag, if you will.

RDR: Have there been any changes to policies at the animal shelter in regard to how many days animals are kept there awaiting either adoption, rescue or reclamation by owner before they’re euthanized?

Kintigh: I’ll be honest with you, I have not stayed up on it. Things seem to have smoothed out over there. We have a new facility manager, and it’s kind of pleasant to not gets lots of inquiries about the animal shelter because that tends to indicate things are going well. No guarantee, don’t get me wrong, but this tells me that things are being addressed and being worked on. Is it ever going to be perfect? No. The fundamental problem we have is this community has way too many animals that are not properly cared for — and how do we change people’s behavior towards their animals?

Changing people’s behavior is incredibly difficult and government does not do that well, but that’s the only real long-term solution here. …

RDR: In regard to the playground equipment at the Yucca Center — (was it damaged) or is it actually being moved to El Capitan?

Kintigh: The contractor was supposed to remove it in a way that it was usable at another location. That did not happen. The director of Parks and Recreation and myself and the city manager were not happy. We’ll call that the understatement.

I do not know what the resolution was with the contractor. I try to stay out of those, but that did not happen like it was supposed to. …

Editor’s note: The city recently awarded the contract for maintenance of its fleet to Ohio-based First Vehicle Services, after issuing the request for proposals (RFP) for a second time. Over the course of both RFP requests, representatives of some local companies — which also submitted proposals — have raised concerns about various aspects the RFP process.

RDR: Was the outcry around the fleet RFP situation indicative of a problem with the RFP process? Or was it something specific to that one?

Kintigh: I think there’s a little bit of an issue. The whole procurement process is dictated by the state law, and the potentials for penalties for government officials who do not follow the full letter are not just administrative, but could conceivably be criminal. That makes it challenging for staff, and we had some of the same type of issue with the golf course RFP. Where are the bright lines? Unfortunately, I feel the statute is ambiguous in too many areas. I know the staff struggles to try and provide information but they’re … very concerned about stepping across the line, and rightfully so.

We took two bites of this apple, and interestingly enough, the result was the same both times. I understand that the firm that did not succeed is not happy and has filed some complaints. Initially, those came to me and the council. That isn’t a proper path. That needed to go to the procurement office and some other individuals.

So now that has happened, and so that is in an appeal situation. This is where … especially an individual like myself, I keep my distance from procurement. I have no business being in the middle of it. We have staff. Those teams that do the evaluations are not known to me or the council. They are picked by senior staff members. In this case, Mr. (Mike) Matthews (director of public safety) stated at the council meeting that he was the one who picked the review team. I have tremendous respect for Mr. Mike Matthews and I trust his judgment in picking the right people. So, we will see in the appeal, if it hasn’t been completed yet, whether or not the city’s actions were appropriate. I’m confident that if there was any type of error, it was unintentional.

But this procurement is, in many ways, almost scary thing, so we tread very carefully.

RDR: You mean because of the trouble people can get into if it isn’t handled correctly?

Kintigh: Exactly.