Councilor Robert Corn, who also chairs Roswell's Finance Committee, said the city could be facing budget adjustments of as much as $2 million.
His estimate was voiced while councilors talked about needs during last week's council meeting. The subject was prompted by staff with the Solid Waste Department asking for council consent to purchase a 25 Yard Loadmaster Rear Loader. This vehicle would be used by the department to adequately deliver commercial service.
The loader would cost the department $379,406 and this money would come from the Solid Waste fund’s cash on hand. The seller is MCT Inc., of Albuquerque.
Councilors repeatedly warned that the purchase would leave the department with very little money for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The department will have less than $40,000 to cover any other emergency that happens until then. Staff said the need was significant and that they had been paying a lot of money for repairs on the two existing vehicles.
A variety of conditions warranted the purchase. There are quite a few job vacancies in that department and with only two vehicles remaining — one of which is being worked on more than it's used — the situation could become a health hazard if waste isn't picked up regularly, said councilors and staff.
The department has already lost a third vehicle as a result of the service and repair contract having ended.
Some councilors also said there are other departmental needs throughout the city government that should have been met much earlier, but they also noted it's most likely that such allocations won't occur until the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Councilor Cristina Arnold said the proposal should go to the Finance Committee before the council takes a vote. It had been recommended by the Infrastructure Committee for council approval.
Councilor Edward Heldenbrand said that he was concerned about the loader purchase because it would leave the department with no margin of error.
Mayor Timothy Jennings explained later that Corn's estimate of a potential $2 million budget gap comes from the more than $1 million net loss reported last month during the mid-year budget review plus shortfalls expected among the city's 70-30 operations, such as the Spring River Zoo and Roswell Museum and Arts Center.
These operations have a goal of self-generating 70% of funding, but this isn't occurring, both Corn and Jennings say.
"We'll be closing out this year's books in a few weeks," Corn said. "That's the time to talk about this."
Now is the time for departments to start spending cautiously, Jennings and Corn have also said.
Councilors ultimately approved the truck purchase.
UFO Festival 2023
Two items related to UFO Festival 2023 were pulled from the council agenda. Both were to approve contracts between the city and potential providers of the main stage concert entertainment.
One would have been with The Liberty, Inc. and the other with EC Touring, Inc.
Councilor Jeanine Corn-Best read a letter sent by attorney Marion “Jimmy” Craig on behalf of The Liberty, which would have secured an artist for the upcoming festival.
“Due to changes in circumstances we feel we should withdraw our company’s bid from consideration for the UFO Festival,” the letter stated.
Corn-Best said she thought when the second meeting on March 1 had ended that the negotiation was going well.
“How did it come to that?” she asked. ”Everything seemed OK.”
“I thought we made every accommodation. It was a shock to me that this happened,” Jennings said.
The Liberty contract was for $20,000 and the EC Touring, Inc agreement was for $35,000.
CASA Mobile Command Post
Councilors approved a proposed memorandum of understanding between the Roswell Police Department and Chaves County Court Appointed Special Advocates that would allow police to use their organization’s command post for free.
In exchange, the RPD will be responsible for storing it, keeping it fueled, making any needed repairs and replacing anything they break or damage while they are using it.
When the post is available, the police will use it for major or significant crimes as well as at special events and local fairs.
Councilors also approved a plan for the Roswell Public Library to shift focus from collecting 20-cent daily overdue fees and instead look to collecting a $25 processing fee if a library user doesn't return what they borrowed within several weeks.
The idea is to provide more of an incentive for people to return the materials they borrow even though they missed the deadline. These overdue items would need to be brought back in good condition.
Borrowing privileges would cease after 28 days and the processing fee would kick in after someone doesn't return borrowed items once they are declared as officially "not returned," which will happen in 49 days.
Reporter Terri Harber can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 308, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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