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City Council to consider zoo admission fees

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Lacking a quorum, the city of Roswell Finance Committee did not conduct a formal meeting Monday morning, but the two members in attendance did hear a presentation and asked staff questions regarding items on the agenda for informational purposes.

Committee Vice Chair Juan Oropesa and Councilor Jacob Roebuck were both absent from the meeting, which had been postponed from its originally scheduled Thursday date.

Action items on the agenda have been moved forward to the agenda for the Roswell City Council’s meeting on Thursday. Those items included financing for a landfill compactor for the Solid Waste Department, spending grant funds to purchase two new pickups, admission fees for the Spring River Zoo, and resolutions certifying correctness of fixed asset inventory and budget adjustments.

Committee Chairman Jason Perry asked for staff to give an overview of the Solid Waste compactor and the zoo fees, but refrained from having them give their full presentations.

Spring River Zoo Curator Andrea Cole reported on the proposed zoo admission fees. The proposed resolution was heard by the General Services Committee in October, but failed to pass by a vote of 2-1. The proposed fees remain unchanged from then. The full council will consider the resolution on its regular agenda Thursday. If approved, the fees would go into effect Jan. 1.

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The resolution proposes a $5 admission fee for Roswell residents age 16 and older and $10 for non-residents. Children age 4 to 15 would pay $2.50 while non-residents would pay $3.50.

Students 16 and older, adults 60 and older, and active military and veterans would pay $3. Groups of 10 or more would pay $3 per person, and school groups with reservations would pay $2.

Wednesdays would be free days for those 60 and older, and the first Saturday of the month would be free for Roswell residents. Members of Friends of Spring River Zoo and children age 3 and under would be admitted free, and there would be free admission on July 31, designated as Spring River Zoo Day. The adjacent park would remain free of admission charges.

City Councilor Judy Stubbs, who is not a member of the Finance Committee but was in attendance, asked about the admission rate for groups. She noted if the group included school-age children, they would be charged a higher rate than if they were paying admission individually — $3 as part of the group as opposed to $2.50.

She asked if the school-group category could be changed to say “school-age groups.”

“That would more clarify and could mean a Cub Scout troop or a 4-H club or something could come. It’s not exactly a school group but it’s a school-age group,” Stubbs said.

A request to change the wording will be made when the resolution is brought before the full council.

Transit Director Becky Hicks spoke about a request to purchase a new Solid Waste compactor. The Infrastructure Committee heard a presentation on that at its Nov. 23 meeting and approved forwarding the request to the Finance Committee.

Hicks told Perry and Councilor Margaret Kennard the heavy-duty compactor, a 2011 Aljon, is in need of costly repairs. The landfill has been using a light-duty 1998 Caterpillar for about four months.

“We’re using our light-duty compactor that is not designed for everyday work. It is lighter and it’s not as heavy-duty, so we’re really kind of pushing the limits on it. And we’re not compacting at the rate that we should be in that cell, so the cell is actually filling faster than it would if we were using the heavy-duty compactor,” she said.

The Aljon compactor was scheduled to be replaced next year, but repairs would cost $35,000.

The price for a new Caterpillar 836K to replace the Aljon is quoted at $1.2 million from Wagner Cat of Albuquerque. The full council will consider that request at Thursday’s meeting.

Hicks also answered questions about a proposed purchase of two pickups funded by federal grants from the Office of National Drug Control. Lea County acts as the fiscal agent for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program for the region and in October approved an award increasing grant funds for the year by $118,384.

Of that money, $99,003 was allocated to Chaves County, with about $95,000 specifically to the city for purchasing vehicles by Dec. 31, Hicks said.

The remaining $3,150 is designated for supplies, according to a budget detail form included in the committee’s agenda packet.

“So we don’t get that money unless we purchase some vehicles,” Hicks said.

City staff picked out two vehicles at Melloy Chevrolet in Los Lunas, which is an approved vendor, Hicks said. The city council must approve the purchase and then will be reimbursed from the grant fund.

The bid from Melloy Chevrolet is for one 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 at $39,000 and another at $44,550. The remaining funds designated for the vehicles would be used to install emergency lighting, sirens, radios and antennas as well as for bed boxes, seat covers and other incidentals.

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

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.