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Committee to consider dissolving city employee furloughs

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The city of Roswell’s Finance Committee will consider recommending dissolving the remaining city employee furlough days when it meets this week.

The meeting will be at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, 912 N. Main St. Due to public health orders, the public is encouraged to participate electronically.

From a computer, tablet or smartphone, the meeting can be accessed at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/822397005, or by calling 669-224-3412 and using access code 822-397-005. The meeting will also be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel.

The city made $31 million in expense cuts when it planned its fiscal year 2021 budget, expecting the coronavirus pandemic would cause a sharp drop in gross receipts taxes. Those cuts included a 10-day furlough for all city employees, spread out over the fiscal year.

Actual collections of GRT have so far been greater than what the city budgeted, however, and the city was able to drop furlough days for July, August, September and October. No furlough days were planned in November or December.

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Now the Finance Committee will discuss a proposal from City Manager Joe Neeb and Administrative Services Director Juan Fuentes to dissolve the remaining furlough days in January through June.

According to reports in the committee’s agenda packet, the city has collected $5.5 million more in GRT since the start of the fiscal year in July than it budgeted for. Generally, collections have been in line with the same months of the past two years.

December’s distribution — which reflects actual GRT collections from October — was about $161,000 lower than the previous month. GRT distributions in December 2019 and 2018 also show decreases from the previous month, however.

Lodgers tax collection has not fared as well. According to the report in the committee’s agenda, hotel room occupancy for November was 43.6%, with the lodgers tax collection at $80,583. That is far below the nearly $114,000 average for the same month in the last three years.

In Thursday’s meeting, the Finance Committee will also consider recommending the following items:

• A contract to purchase two new buses for the city transit system for $221,459. This is a $29,000 increase over the new minivan and new bus the city included in the fiscal 2021 budget. The transit department is requesting two buses that are smaller than the city’s current buses. According to the supporting document in the agenda packet, this will allow the city to hire drivers without commercial driver’s licenses, and the doors on newer minivans do not accommodate wider wheelchairs. State assistance is possible for the purchase.

• A contract to purchase a 2021 Caterpillar 420 backhoe for the cemetery for $128,841 from Wagner Cat, Albuquerque. A specialized backhoe is needed to dig graves to required depth and shape. The backhoe also must fit between grave markers without having to remove them. An 18-year-old backhoe in use at the cemetery had $7,500 in maintenance issues last year.

• A resolution to issue tax-exempt bonds to reimburse the city’s general fund for the purchase of a new compactor for the landfill. Last month, the Roswell City Council approved the purchase of the $1.2 million compactor using available funds. The bonds would add $185,000 to the city’s debt service a year for 10 years.

• Authorizing the city manager the discretion to waive storage fees to American Airlines for November and December. The city has been in discussions with the airline since August, when it first announced it would suspend flights to many smaller cities, including Roswell. The airline reversed its decision on the Roswell service but cut one flight a day. Negotiations to continue service included waiving October storage fees of $58,000. November fees are $54,248 and December’s fees are estimated at $55,000.

• A Memorandum of Understanding between Roswell and Chaves County. The county received $5 million last year in state economic funding for extending utilities at the city-owned Roswell Air Center. The MOU would outline the responsibilities of both the city and county in the project.

• The financial commitment of a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency Recovery Assistance Program intended for an expansion of Hangar 84 at the Roswell Air Center. Neeb will give a presentation.

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

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