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City aims to add jobs, diversity in next year

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The city has its eye on recovery from the pandemic in its fiscal year 2022 budget including adding more than 100 jobs, more money for streets and more diversity in its hiring, the city manager said at Thursday night’s meeting of the Roswell City Council.

The city’s Finance Department will finalize the preliminary budget next week, and the schedule presented by City Manager Joe Neeb plans for it to be presented to the Finance Committee on May 6.

Neeb gave a summary report of the goals included in the budget at Thursday’s council meeting.

Neeb said in fiscal 2021, which ends June 30, departments were asked to hold their costs in check and the city saw more in gross receipts tax revenue than it had anticipated.

The March GRT report shows the city is almost $6.3 million above what it had projected it would receive.

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The combination of austerity measures and surplus GRT puts the city in a good position going into fiscal 2022, Neeb said.

One goal in the city’s budget is to bring back some of the jobs that were cut in the 2021 budget. The city reduced its workforce by 101 full-time equivalency positions by laying off part-time seasonal workers and offering voluntary buyouts last year.

“We are intending to bring back 38 of those full-time positions,” he said. Those will include some new positions for the city such as a grant writer, an outreach and volunteer coordinator, and a sports tourism/special events coordinator.

The city also hopes to hire eight part-time employees and 60 seasonal employees to help facilities like the Spring River Zoo return to being open seven days a week, Neeb said.

“Our big concern right now is that for certain positions we’re getting very good turnout and so we’re getting some good applicants for that. For other services and other things that we’re looking for, we’re getting very poor turnout,” he said.

To combat the poor turnout, Neeb said the city will have a job fair at the Roswell Convention Center within the next couple of months with the goal of interviewing, screening and making job offers within the same day.

Along with hiring new positions, Neeb said the city has a goal of more diversity in its hiring, specifically bringing more women to departments such as water, sewer and solid waste.

In addition, he said, he’d like to see a dozen women hired as firefighters in the next year.

Among the other goals Neeb outlined:

• Increasing the Street Department budget from $9 million to at least $11 million. “I’ve challenged everybody to see if we can get to $13 million to take care of all the ongoing needs for streets as well as a very strong program of replacement and repair,” Neeb said.

• Bringing the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River under the city’s management rather than a contractor this fall. “It’s no reflection on what our current contractor is doing. We’re going to just move in a different direction because we believe one of the big things we have been doing is consolidating or at least tying all of our storefronts together. The pro shop is a big storefront for our purposes,” he said.

The city’s other storefronts — or retail sales spaces — are the Visitors Center, the zoo, the Recreation and Aquatics Center, the Roswell Air Center and the Roswell Museum and Art Center.

In other business at Thursday’s meeting, the council took the following action:

• Approved 10-0 a resolution amending city code to allow council meetings to be rescheduled if the regular meeting date falls on a holiday or for other conflicts.

• Approved 9-1 a resolution authorizing a loan agreement for $5.4 million for the construction of a new landfill cell and to reimburse city funds for the $1.2 million purchase of a compactor for the landfill. Councilor Juan Oropesa was the dissenting vote.

• Voted 10-0 to award construction of the landfill cell to J&H Services, Albuquerque for $3.5 million.

• Voted 9-1 to advertise for a public hearing on a proposed ordinance requiring intergovernmental agreements for mutual aid. Councilor George Peterson was the dissenting vote.

• Voted 9-1 to approve an amended five-year lease agreement with Gravity Partners II on 2,500 square feet of land at the Air Center to construct telecommunications towers. The lease has the option of up to seven five-year renewals. Peterson was the dissenting vote. The monthly rent is $1,020 with the city receiving 20% of any subleases. Councilor Jeanine Best moved to amend the lease to add language ensuring the city would have reserved space on the towers available at no charge should the need arise in the future. The amendment was approved 8-2, with Oropesa and Peterson the dissenting votes.

• Approved 8-2 to ratify the $300,000 purchase of 13 acres that were formerly part of the Roswell Job Corps Center and located just north of the main entrance of the Air Center. Peterson and Oropesa were the dissenting votes. Oropesa said he believed the city should spend the money on needs such as improvements to the tennis courts rather than buying property.

• Approved 9-1 an ambulance services agreement with American Medical Response Ambulance Service, Las Cruces. Peterson was the dissenting vote. He said he believed the city should be running the ambulance service.

• Voted unanimously to award a $159,485 rehabilitation project of a portion of the Spring River Trail to Constructors Inc., Carlsbad; a $63,121 change order for the Lea/Deming bridge project; to adopt the Roswell Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan as a guideline; the $217,209 purchase of new software and training for the dispatch center; and awarding a $92,227 roofing project at the Waste Water Treatment Plant to J&J Marquez Residential and Commercial Building, Roswell.

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

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