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City treasurer appointment spurs discussion

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What is usually a statutory formality in the reorganization of the City Council garnered some discussion about why a change was being made in the appointment of a city treasurer at Thursday evening’s meeting of the Roswell City Council.

As part of the council’s reorganization following an election, the mayor makes recommendations for appointments to several positions, including city clerk, city treasurer and police officer. The City Council then confirms the recommendations. The appointments are required by state statute.

“This is a bit of a relic statute, one of the beginning ones that New Mexico had,” City Attorney Aaron Holloman told the council. “This is also complicated by the fact that not only do we have a city manager but that the powers over individual personnel members that are employed by the city have been delegated to the city manager.”

However, the positions have some statutory powers, so the city has traditionally complied with the statute in making the appointments, Holloman said.

For example, the city clerk carries the city seal, the treasurer signs for bonds and the police officer deputizes others and confers arrest powers to enforce laws.

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City Clerk Sharon Coll was appointed to that position, while Police Chief Philip Smith was appointed police officer.

While the city clerk and police officer recommendations received little discussion and passed unanimously, Councilor Juan Oropesa questioned the recommendation of Director of Administrative Services Juan Fuentes as treasurer.

City Finance Director Monica Garcia has served as treasurer for the last few years.

City manager Joe Neeb said the recommendation was due to some changes within city staff. One employee from the finance office took another position with the city, and an employee in the utility billing office retired.

“It’s not really reflective on Ms. Garcia. It is reflective that I need her to focus on other tasks for this next year, and I would hope that the council would recognize that request for that reason,” he said.

“To me that sounds a little suspicious, to be honest,” Oropesa said. “If this is nothing against Mrs. Garcia, then why not appoint her? If she’s able to do the job of that position she was appointed to, why not continue?”

“My fear is the overloading of that position because her duties have exponentially increased as to what she has to watch. She’s lost the majority of her senior staff within that department,” Neeb said.

Neeb also noted the treasurer appointment has not always been the finance director. Former city manager Larry Fry served as treasurer for a time, he said.

When the vote came, Fuentes’ appointment was confirmed by a vote of 7-2, with Oropesa and Councilor Angela Moore voting no. Councilor Savino Sanchez was not present.

The council also elected Councilor Judy Stubbs as mayor pro tem, making it her second consecutive year in that position. Stubbs was nominated by Oropesa and received six votes.

Councilors are allowed to nominate themselves, which Barry Foster and Jeanine Best did. In his comments, Foster noted the position usually changes hands each year.

“Our normal procedure is to pass this on to other councilors, this position. In the past, I only remember once that we kept it twice in a row,” he said.

However, Councilor Jason Perry, elected in March to represent Ward II, said he had reservations about making a change.

“We’re in a time of crisis. I do believe right now that we just do not know where we’re going to be with the situation,” he said.

“There have been times in the past where the mayor pro tem doesn’t have a whole lot to do, but there have been times where the mayor pro tem has been a very, very crucial part of what this governing body would have to have in leadership,” he said in voicing his support for Stubbs.

Councilors Jacob Roebuck, Stubbs, George Peterson, Oropesa and Perry voted for Stubbs. Foster voted for himself. Best voted for herself, joined by Councilor Margaret Kennard.

The council also approved the mayor’s recommendations for other positions:

• Amy Coll and Mayor Dennis Kintigh to the Airport Advisory Commission.

• Cymantha Liakos to the Roswell Museum and Art Center Board of Trustees.

• Matthew Bristol, Larry Connolly and Mona Kirk to the Extraterritorial Zoning Commission.

• Alyssa Rogers and Marcos Nava to the Roswell Public Library Board of Trustees.

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

 

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