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City’s recreation, sanitation and fleet budgets reviewed for next year

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City Councilor Steve Henderson, center, suggests at a special Finance Committee meeting on April 17 that the city of Roswell could consider charging a nominal fee for recycling on water bills to cover the costs associated with recycling for the sanitation department. (Alison Penn Photo)

Rec center, recycling, vehicle and court costs presented

Discussion continues regarding the city of Roswell’s departments and their needs for the upcoming fiscal year.

Recreation, sanitation, fleet maintenance and municipal court departments presented their budgets as well as requested capital improvements at a special finance committee meeting on April 17. A preliminary discussion began at another finance meeting on April 5 with three other departments presenting. At this meeting, City Manager Joe Neeb suggested that another meeting be held to cover the remaining departments.

“As the council, it’s our task to approve the budget,” City Councilor Jacob Roebuck said. “It’s a very huge budget. Each of your individual department budgets are massive — some of them very much so, lots of line items. It’s a lot of data for us to process it at one time.

“However … it’s within our purview to approve the budget and for me personally, the value that I have is I want to make sure that we are — for every dollar we are spending, we’re getting the most good for the most people, most of our citizens in our community, and that does require us to do our due diligence in that …”

Having the departments present their budgets was a way to understand where every dollar is going, which Roebuck said was the “heart behind all of this.” The city’s fiscal year ends June 30 and a new fiscal year begins July 1.

Recreation

The recreation department returned with more numbers after councilors asked for more information for the costs associated with the Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center’s pool on April 5. Recreation Superintendent Laurie Dudek presented the department’s budget and Jim Burress, Parks and Recreation director, and Recreation Supervisor Damian Cheatum were also present for questions.

Since the rec center should be opened in July, Dudek said the plan is to have realistic and conservative numbers with room to grow. She said the department anticipates high recreation numbers and sales in the new concession stand complete with a “state of the art” and “Sonic” style ice machine.

Back when Steve Polasek was city manager, Dudek said the idea was for the new facility to run on the same budget as Yucca Recreation Center before it closed in 2016 and was recently demolished. Dudek said the addition of the aquatic center will increase the costs for utilities.

“We have very strong expectations to be able to be back to where we were in 2017 before the facility (Yucca Recreation Center) closed, but then to expand and surpass those amounts and continue to rise up in revenues,” Dudek said.

For fiscal year 2020 (FY 20), the revenue projection for the recreation center is $191,811 and the aquatic center is $244,918. The Roswell Adult & Recreation Center at 807 N. Missouri Ave. shows projected revenue at $383,622 and the department’s expenses are estimated to be $2,621,352.

For rec center memberships, Dudek explained there are separate memberships for the aquatics and recreation side. Councilor Caleb Grant suggested creating a combination membership and added that the opening “was only a couple months away.”

To open the pool, Dudek said the contract with United Pools has start-up costs listed at $300,000 for the first year only; pool filling $50,000 and $669,894 for operating expenses and personnel. Dudek said pool programming will include water polo, water volleyball and swim team.

With new programming, Dudek said recreation is planning on “elevating services.” Cheatum said the recreation department’s youth basketball program may extend from 10 to 12-14 games a season.

For capital requests, Dudek listed the department would want to renovate a room and upgrade pavement and parking at the Roswell Adult & Recreation Center. With the adult center and the rec center, Dudek said recreation will not be duplicating services and instead focus on different things at each facility.

Sanitation 

Steve Miko, director of sanitation, recycling and landfill, and Michael Mayes, Roswell Municipal Landfill supervisor, said the city’s landfill on West Brasher Road has an intake of 100,000 pounds of trash annually. The submittal amount of FY 20’s revenue is between $7 million and $6 million depending on transfers and the operating expenses are projected at $6,147,513.

Miko said the sanitation fees are “somewhat stable” from revenues and that revenues from recycling are decreasing nationwide.

Mayes said the fees for sanitation will no longer be increasing. Since a former council’s decision ended in 2017, Mayes said sanitation is “stuck at current fees and will be stuck until City Council determines on how to raise these.” Finance Director Monica Garcia said the city is looking into the current fees.

Miko and Mayes said the city is paying to get rid of recycling since the decrease in the recycling market. City Councilor Steve Henderson said recycling is a “feel-good type operation” — but comes at a cost for the city. Henderson recommended the city charge $1 on the water bills to help cover some of the recycling costs.

Roebuck asked about the cost of burying recyclables versus accruing costs by shipping it off to Albuquerque. Mayes said “hardcore recyclers” will be coming to the councilors if the recycling changes and Miko described local recycles as a “loyal cadre.”

The landfill also had an inspection about a month and a half ago and Miko said for the “first time” there were no violations, not even for litter.

Capital improvements included replacement of a grappler truck, a side loader, a pick-up, closure of cell three and a few others were listed with a $2.8 million price tag.

Fleet 

Fleet Manager Danny Renshaw said there are 710 pieces of equipment, a “fluid number,” in the city’s $40 million fleet that are active. Of the equipment, Renshaw shared a pie chart with the percentages of equipment in the following department: 33% in public works, 30% in public safety, 23% in parks and recreation, 10% for the Roswell International Air Center and remaining 4% for miscellaneous departments and transit.

The projection for fleet expenses were $134,225 for FY 20. Renshaw said the fleet maintenance cost $2,224,578 in FY 18 and it is projected at $1,888,409 in FY 19. To fund absolutely everything on the list in FY 19 and 20, Renshaw said it would cost $5 million along with $1,028,000 from enterprise funds.

Deputy City Manager Mike Mathews reminded the council that the older vehicles move to other departments to extend their shelf-life.

For sanitation’s fleet, Miko said the department is reaping benefits from investing in new equipment and costs are down for maintenance. Renshaw said this decrease was about $30,000 per month for sanitation and $18,000 for the police department due to “better controls” and procedural changes.

Municipal 

Municipal Judge Eric Brackeen said the municipal court takes in revenue from correctional fees, municipal court fines, house arrests and electric monitors — but is not a revenue-generating entity. Brackeen addresses how fines are often dealt with by offering community service to citizens in difficult situations. The projection is $464,196 for revenue with expenses at $847,506 for FY 20.

Brackeen said the court is requesting a substantial increase for roof maintenance to deal with leaks as well as addressing the HVAC system and windows.

During Brackeen’s presentation, Grant asked about the increase in personnel costs and Becky Hicks, supervising senior accountant, said every department is expecting a 6% increase with a 2.8% cost of living adjustment and 2% raise.

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