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City considers comprehesive project list

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City of Roswell staff stand for questions regarding future city projects at a workshop on Tuesday evening. A large version of a seven-page project report, which was presented at the meeting, can be seen behind them in the meeting room at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center. (Alison Penn Photo)

In a meeting room at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, City Manager Joe Neeb presented about 300 projects within city services or departments for the Roswell City Council to consider for future prioritization.

A special council workshop was set for Tuesday, but instead was announced by Mayor Dennis Kintigh to be a discussion workshop since there was not a quorum of councilors.

Councilors Savino Sanchez, Barry Foster, Caleb Grant, Juan Oropesa and Jacob Roebuck were present and no formal action was taken.

The project list has potential phases including design and engineering, cost estimates, funding prioritization and state and federal funding sources. Neeb reviewed each project with a PowerPoint presentation and city department heads were available to answer questions.

“We need a complete list and we need that list to be as accurate as possible,” Neeb said. “That doesn’t mean that we can’t add things as we go along, but if it’s not on the list — then it doesn’t exist … and so we want to try and make this list all encompassing, so that we can have the right conversations about how everything will go.”

Neeb explained the council will formally review and discuss the list two or three more times this year to consider prioritization.

The intention is to understand and research options of funding sources for the projects within five years before the project start, Neeb said. For project start dates within one to two years, Neeb said the goal is to be sure of the funding sources to ensure completion of projects.

For all of the projects, Neeb said the estimated total costs would be $570 million and there is probably an additional $10-15 million in projects that were not included in time for the list.

As phased out in the worksheet, Neeb said the projects could all be completed in 14.25 years if the city was able to use their funds freely. However, he said the city’s finances are not “one big checkbook,” but are often restricted to be spent on certain projects.

On average, the city spends $40 million “conservatively” on capital projects annually, Neeb said.

Neeb explained that costs for deferred maintenance of city buildings were included in the worksheet. He said deferred maintenance was “money that should have been invested into the building over time.”

Kintigh asked a rhetorical question if renovations to City Hall was a priority to the community or not. He said he wanted the governing body to make “conscious” decisions for the governing body.

When Roebuck said he was uncomfortable with making firm decisions about future projects, Neeb said the worksheet was “not written in stone,” since council must approve the projects and prioritization annually. He said the city needs to have “an idea to see the future.”

The council has been considering a public safety complex and Kintigh suggested that a general obligation bond could be a potential option to consider to pay for such a facility.

Kintigh and Neeb suggested the present councilors consider the list and share their priorities with Neeb. They said the other councilors will be informed and asked to do the same.

The city’s fiscal year 2020-21 began July 1 and Neeb said the council will consider approval of the final budget next week.

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