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Finance Committee to hear municipal court budget

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The Roswell Municipal Court will present its fiscal year 2022 budget including a 5% overall reduction and a proposal to differentiate accounts not directly related to court function, the municipal judge says in the budget request.

The request is one of the items on the agenda for the Roswell City Council’s Finance Committee meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, 912 N. Main St.

Due to state health orders, the public is encouraged to attend electronically. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel. Those wanting to participate can do so through GoToMeeting virtual meeting software.

By computer, tablet or smartphone, the meeting can be joined at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/822397005. To join by phone, call 669-224-3412 and use access code 822-397-005.

Municipal Judge Joseph H. Seskey’s proposed budget totals $693,680, about $31,000 less than last year’s request, according to figures included in his budget proposal.

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Cost-saving measures and elimination of some expenses are only part of the reduction, he wrote in his proposal. The court has been working with City Manager Joe Neeb to define which budget issues are the responsibilities of the court and which should be under other areas of the city’s executive branch, Seskey wrote. The mayor and 10-member City Council would comprise the rest of the city’s executive branch.

While costs related to repair and maintenance of the building, insurance, damage claims, and citywide computer accessories are attributed to the court, they are accounts that should not be managed by the Municipal Court, Seskey said.

“The Court should be responsible only for cost related to the operations of the court function and cost related to the constitutional legal requirements expressly required of the office,” he wrote.

Those include personnel, training and travel, contracts with indigent counsel and information technology to operate, maintain and secure court data, he wrote.

Among the costs eliminated from the 2022 budget request are $41,000 in maintenance and repair line items, $5,248 in insurance-related costs and $7,000 in utilities.

The court’s proposed budget does include increases for some areas, primarily a 12% increase in salaries for full-time personnel. Benefits for employees and the municipal judge, an elected position, are also included.

The court has eight employees — a court administrator, four deputy court clerks, a bailiff and two court compliance officers. The increases reflect an estimate of a 2% step increase and 1.3% cost of living allowance as suggested by the city manager, Seskey wrote.

The municipal court has taken cost-saving measures throughout the last year, Seskey wrote, such as expanding its online pay software to take payments over the phone, eliminating the need for a credit card machine that cost $2,200 in yearly fees.

Also on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, committee members will consider the following:

• Recommending approval of a professional services agreement for $162,316 with Souder, Miller and Associations, Albuquerque, for bidding and construction administration of Cell 5A at the Roswell Municipal Landfill. The Infrastructure Committee heard the proposal at its Feb. 22 meeting and voted 4-0 to recommend its approval and review by the Finance Committee.

• Recommending approval of two ordinances related to construction of the new landfill cell. One would authorize submission of an application for financial assistance from New Mexico Finance Authority for the $1.2 million purchase of the new compactor for the landfill and $5.7 million for the design and construction of Cell 5A. The second would authorize the city to enter a loan agreement with NMFA for a special obligation up to $6.4 million for the construction. Souder, Miller and Associates has estimated the cost of construction to around $4.5 million. RBC Capital will present a financial analysis of both resolutions.

• Approving new Finance Director Janie Davis as an additional signer on all city bank accounts.

• Recommending approval of a resolution authorizing the sale of old and obsolete technology as surplus property. The items such as computers and laptops, many purchased in 2015 or earlier, have been determined to have no value and would be auctioned online. 

• Recommending approval of budget amendments totaling $327,180 in revenue and $1 million in expenses.

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