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City manager addresses alleged RFD misconduct

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The Roswell city manager said allegations of misconduct within the Roswell Fire Department earlier this year were not found to be criminal in nature and the city considers it to be a closed issue.

City Manager Joe Neeb made the comments during Thursday evening’s virtual city forum livestreamed on Facebook and Instagram in response to a comment submitted prior to the forum.

The comment said the city covered up a hazing incident, did not reprimand those who carried it out and no criminal charges were made, Neeb said.

In February, eight firefighters with the RFD were placed on administrative leave with pay following accusations of misconduct.

The city did not provide details of the allegations to the Roswell Daily Record at that time, citing an ongoing investigation, but did say the actions occurred during the second week of February with the city learning of the allegations on Feb. 24. The firefighters were placed on leave with pay the next day.

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Neeb said he would not go into detail about personnel matters in the forum, but said the city’s investigation found the misconduct to not be criminal in nature.

“It became more of a condition of correcting behavior that is not acceptable for our department,” Neeb said.

“All the issues have been addressed and we consider this a closed issue,” he said and commended Fire Chief Matt Miller’s handling of the allegations.

“This is a non-issue at this point in time. I’m not going to get into what type of reprimands or what level or anything of that nature. I believe that once we were able to determine the severity of what the issue was, it was addressed and it was taken care of and I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

The forum was open-topic with a focus on Ward 3, which comprises the northwest and north central parts of the city. Ward 3 Councilor Judy Stubbs joined Neeb for the half-hour forum. Councilor Jeanine Best, who also represents Ward 3, was not present, as she was attending a forum on cannabis laws.

Among the other topics Neeb and Stubbs discussed were roads and the UFO Festival.

In response to a question on whether or not the city is using the road conditions report that was conducted in 2018, Neeb said it is, but money has been an issue.

“It was a big topic in our budget. I think the challenge and the conversation at the city council level has been how to come up with enough funding to cover the amount of streets we want to cover,” he said.

The report said in order for the city to fix its backlog of poor streets, it would need to spend $16 million.

Although the city will not be spending that much, it will be increasing its streets budget from $9 million to $14 million in fiscal year 2022, which starts July 1.

“If we wanted to do a lot of catch-up on our streets, $16 million would allow us to get ahead of the curveball. Now I think we’re riding right on top of that curveball,” Neeb said.

Stubbs thanked the people of Roswell for making it possible to put the extra money into the streets budget despite the pandemic.

The city budgeted for decreases in gross receipts taxes throughout fiscal year 2021, but collections surpassed what was budgeted in all but two months. Through May, the city has collected $6.6 million more in GRT than budgeted.

“So many municipalities were really hit badly this year and we really weren’t, like we expected. So thanks to all of you for maintaining use of local stores and facilities. I feel really good about the fact that Roswell hung in there,” Stubbs said.

Neeb also noted the city has earmarked some of the streets funding specifically for residential streets and sidewalks.

“We’re very pedestrian friendly. We love our bicycling, we love our walking and everything, so we want to make sure we’re putting enough money in to do those things,” Neeb said.

In response to a question about what Ward 3 project Stubbs is most excited about, Stubbs responded that the upcoming UFO Festival events will include her ward.

Cielo Grande Recreation Area and the Wool Bowl will be sites for some of the festival’s events including outdoor movies, the Chevel Shepherd Concert and the July 4 closing ceremonies.

Neeb noted other areas of the city and facilities such as the Spring River Zoo and Recreation Center will also be sites for festival events.

“The neat thing about the UFO Festival right now as well, it’s at Cielo Grande, but it’s also downtown, it is also on the north end, it’s also on the south end. We have the UFO Festival on steroids,” Neeb said.

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