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City Council to consider hiring lobbyist

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The Roswell City Council will consider hiring an Albuquerque political lobbyist for $40,000 during its upcoming July meeting.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in Meeting Room A of the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, 912 N. Main St.

The council will also conduct public hearings and votes on two proposed ordinances concerning the Roswell Air Center. One will modify city codes concerning airport hazards and obstructions, while the other will revise the airport ordinance section of the city code, paring out unnecessary and outdated provisions.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the public is encouraged to participate electronically through GoToMeeting at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/815060573 or by phone at 669-224-3412 and using access code 815-060-573.

Anyone wishing to speak in the public comment session or the public hearings must sign up through GoToMeeting prior to the meeting’s 6 p.m. start. All speakers will have a three-minute time limit.

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The meeting will also be live-streamed on the city’s YouTube channel.

Among the action items on the council’s agenda is a service agreement with Thompson Consulting LLC of Albuquerque for $4,000 a month through April.

The scope of work outlined in the documents says Thompson Consulting will develop and improve relationships and credibility for the city with state executive office officials and state legislators, seek the approval of governmental actions and instruments favorable to the city, and provide advice and counsel to the City Council and staff on strategic approaches for working with state government.

“This is something we’ve looked at a number of years in order to help our chances in the Legislature, make sure that legislation and activity that happens in Santa Fe has a benefit back to Roswell and our community,” City Manager Joe Neeb told the city’s Legal Committee at its June 25 meeting.

The committee unanimously approved sending the proposal to the full council, but with no recommendation on its passage. Councilors Barry Foster and Judy Stubbs said they’d like to see additions or changes to the draft of the service agreement.

Foster said it was apparent to him through the last few months of the pandemic that less information is coming to the city from the state government.

Councilor Jason Perry, who attended the committee meeting by phone, said while councilors often made the effort to travel to the capital during the legislative session, keeping contact the rest of the year is also important.

“Just as critical to the legislation during the session is those subcommittees throughout the year that come through that maybe we miss or maybe they aren’t in our forefront,” Perry said.

Foster asked how Joe Thompson, the consulting company’s owner and principal, would communicate with the council.

“When I was reading through it, there’s really no drafts on how communication is going to flow,” he said of the service agreement.

Neeb said the agreement is a draft at this point and he wanted input from the council.

“We can talk with Mr. Thompson about what our expectations are as this moves forward. The nature of this thing is it’s $40,000 for the year. It’s underneath the purchasing limits, but if this is truly going to be an agent of the City Council, we really wanted the elected officials to weigh in on the value of this expectation,” he said.

The agreement could be worded, Neeb said, so that Thompson would send all communications to all the city councilors, the mayor and city manager.

Perry said a lobbyist, combined with city councilors traveling to Santa Fe during the legislative session, would strengthen the city’s voice in the capital.

“I’m willing to give this the opportunity to see what this could possibly do for the city,” he said.

Thompson served in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1999 to 2005, representing District 31 in Bernalillo County and was minority Republican House Whip. Prior to that, he was chief lobbyist for then-Gov. Gary Johnson.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website, Thompson Consulting was formed in 2005 and has been employed by the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority, the city of Albuquerque, Amazon, The Nature Conservancy and Xcel Energy, among others.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the council will consider approving several items in the consent agenda, including a pool of vendors for on-call engineering services and awarding a request for proposal to HDR Inc. of Albuquerque for the Waste Water Treatment Plant dewatering facility.

The consent agenda also includes a business retention agreement with MainStreet Roswell, a memorandum of agreement with MainStreet Roswell and New Mexico Main Street, and renewal of six leases and one new lease at the Air Center.

Other action items on the agenda include resolutions adopting new rates and fees at the Air Center, working with the county to develop an economic authority to oversee the Air Center, approving recommendations for positions on the Parks and Recreation Committee, and approving a final plat for the Aspen Estates subdivision.

The council will also consider scheduling public hearings and votes on three proposed ordinances — one on updates to the lodgers’ tax, one on modifying zoning codes on home occupations and one on amending city codes on solid waste.

Closed sessions are scheduled for the discussion of purchase, acquisition or disposal of real property or water rights relating to potential lease of land, and discussion of attorney-client privilege pertaining to threatened or pending litigation.

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