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Chamber of Commerce agrees to audit of city funds

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The Roswell Chamber of Commerce has agreed to an audit of how it has used city money in the wake of terminating its service agreement with the city in March.

City Manager Joe Neeb said in an email both the city and chamber will have to agree on an audit firm from a list provided by the New Mexico state auditor.

“The pandemic has slowed the selection of the firm but we are hopeful to get this work done over the next three months,” Neeb wrote.

Attempts to contact chamber Executive Director Candace Purcella and the board’s past president, Kaye Whitefoot by phone and email were not answered by press time.

City Councilor Jeanine Corn Best also confirmed in an email the audit process is moving forward.

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“We will get to the answers for the questions that I have asked,” she wrote.

Best questioned Purcella at the March 12 Roswell City Council meeting, during which Purcella gave a required report to the city and also read a letter giving notice the chamber board had decided to terminate the Business Retention Services Contract with the city.

The city allocated $76,700 a year for the three-year agreement that began in July 2018.

Chaves County also has a service agreement with the Chamber of Commerce, paying $57,500. That agreement continues.

Best noted at the March 12 meeting the chamber had a negative balance on its operational bank account, outstanding bills of $45,000 and no details of expenses on a $21,000 credit card bill.

Purcella acknowledged December and January were each a “rough month” for the chamber, but said the organization’s operating account had a positive balance as of the meeting date.

“I will be completely honest, we were heavily staffed” in December, she said. The chamber also provided staff bonuses and appreciation in November and December, she said.

“That made us bleed a little bit,” Purcella said.

Four chamber staff members resigned on the same day in January. Various reasons were given for the departures.

“We are making up the difference in that. We are seeing an influx and we are back in the black as far as our operating account,” Purcella said.

She agreed with Best, the chamber’s finances were “worrisome.”

“The board of directors and myself are tackling this and we are moving forward and getting this resolved the best we know how,” Purcella said.

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