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City denies fee waiver to Walk for Hope

Kathryn Silvas, vice president of the Chaves County Cancer Fund. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Chaves County Cancer Fund will not receive a waiver of city fees for its upcoming fundraising event following a vote by a city committee.

Three members of the Roswell City Council Finance Committee voted unanimously to deny a request that the city waive $2,461 for city personnel, equipment or supplies related to the nonprofit’s 2020 Walk for Hope, now scheduled for May 8 at the Cielo Grande Recreation Area.

With Chair Caleb Grant and Councilors Steve Henderson and Jacob Roebuck voting against the request, the matter is not scheduled to be considered by the City Council.

“While we respect the city’s decision and position on their policy, it is disappointing because that is two families we cannot help,” said Kathryn Silva, vice president of the Chaves County Cancer Fund. “All we can do is ask the business community to come forward and either ask for help with funds that we will need to pay to the city … or if there is another location available that could be donated.”

The group raised $85,946.89 at its 2019 walk, Silva said, and its application with the city indicates that it has raised about $1 million during the past 10 years.

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Silva said all locally raised money goes to local families, with a $2,000 cap per family per year in general; that every penny raised goes to help people who are diagnosed with cancer; and that everyone working for the nonprofit and as event organizers do so as volunteers.

The City Council did grant the group a waiver in 2019 of up to $3,682, with the walk accruing $3,546.23 in expenses for city personnel, equipment or other fees.

The committee also heard from Marcus Gallegos, city recreation manager, who said that his department, as well as the city’s Parks Department, are feeling “drained” to meet the needs for special events since the new Recreation and Aquatic Center opened. He said he has paid $18,500 in overtime so far this fiscal year, which he attributed mostly to assisting with special events.

Henderson and Roebuck expressed their support for the Chaves County Cancer Fund and its fundraising efforts, but said that city residents are generous and that the organization has a lot of support that it can build on to find other sponsors. For those reasons, they decided to support the staff recommendation to deny the waiver.

The committee also discussed the process by which fund transfers can be made without requiring review of all councilors or a vote at a City Council meeting.

The topic was prompted because the General Services Committee authorized in October the expenditure of about $202,275 for netting at the Charlie McVay Memorial Softball Complex without forwarding the matter to the City Council. The project had been discussed at various council and committee meetings for a couple of years.

City Manager Joe Neeb said that the money for the netting project will come from the Gross Receipts Tax Administration Fee fund.

But he added that he would present at a future Finance Committee meeting some specific recommendations regarding the larger issue of when general fund transfers would require notification to or review by city councilors. When funds are transferred out of or into the general fund from other types of city funds, state laws require budget amendment requests, which are voted on by the City Council.

Neeb and other city staff said that current city finance department policies established in 2018 by the city manager’s office allow money transfers within the general fund of less than $1 million to be made by the city manager.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.