by Marty Mayfield
RATON — Raton City Commissioners met Tuesday evening March 24, 2020 to handle the city’s business during the State Health Emergency that is affecting all of New Mexico which includes the final audit report and Visitor’s Center issues.
The city received an unmodified audit report that was presented by Alan “AJ” Bowers, Jr Tuesday evening by telephone. Bowers covered the test on the airport grant, he noted that no issues were found with that grant. He did note that the city had four minor exceptions while Raton Public Service received two all of which he noted could easily be remedied. Commissioners then approved the report as a formality required by state law.
Commissioners approved an MOU with the Center for Innovation to provide a tourism coordinator. The center has moved into the visitors’ center as the Raton Chamber of Commerce vacated the building. It was also noted the chamber will be going dark at the end of the month.
Jessica Barfield as Economic Development Director has asked for $5,000 from Lodgers Tax non-promotional funds to purchase two vending machines with the proceeds of the sales to go to operating the Visitor’s Center. She is hoping to use the remaining funds to purchase rebranded advertising materials to place at the Visitors Center and local hotels to help promote Raton.
GrowRaton has received a grant to continue operations and have requested office space at the Visitors Center. Commissioner Chatterly asked why can’t the city have the Center for Innovation just lease space to Grow Raton instead of another MOU that basically is the same as the one for the Center for Innovation. Commissioners then approved to have the CFI MOU amended to allow that to occur. Jessica Barfield noted that having them in the Visitor’s Center will be an advantage as they both work to promote Raton.
Since the Chamber of Commerce will go dark as of March 31, the city will take over the billboard contract with Lindmark for the billboard in Capulin.
Commissioners approved contracts with Engineering Analytics for work on the CDBG Downtown Infrastructure project and a task order on the Great Blocks project. Commissioners then approved a contract with Gordon Environmental for continued land fill monitoring that is required by the state Environmental Department.
Commissioners approved the hiring of Mechanical Engineering Services to inspect and look into replacing the boiler and piping at the Convention Center. The very least that has to be done is replace the boiler, but the city is needing to replace other piping and valves in the building also. Jason Phillips told commissioners the heating used to come from the power plant. He is hoping to replace the boiler with two new ones in order to have a redundant system as well as most of the piping for the system.
Commissioners approved waiving convenience fees on credit card utility payments and extend disconnects during the health emergency. They then heard about creating an emergency micro loan to help local businesses through this rough time. The loan funds set aside will only amount to $20,000. The city has also pledged to help local businesses with federal and state aid. But as Jessica Barfield noted, most of the business help is targeted to businesses with more than 40 employees. She has called about 10 different people in government reminding them that they also need to look at the smaller businesses in the state as they are the ones this emergency is really hurting.
Commissioners approved the FY2019 Budget Adjustment #10 which includes that $20,000 as well as moving monies around for the $5,000 in lodgers tax money.
During the city manager’s report, Berry noted that the city is open for business but you will have to call for a meeting or if you need help with other issues as the city office is closed to the public as well as RPS lobby and the Police Department lobby. Berry has tasked Fire Chief Espinoza with keeping citizens and media informed about city services and status of the city during this health emergency.
He noted that he and Dan Campbell attended a meeting with the Water Quality Control Commission to go over an agreement for waste water standards. The city has reached a temporary agreement on the waste water standards that the city has to meet with its aging treatment plant.
Berry also noted that he will meet with Pat Walsh concerning the at large dog problem which has been spurred on by the recent dog attack. She was to be at the meeting tonight but due to the health emergency restrictions was unable to attend and Berry will meet with her later in the week.
Commissioners next regular meeting will be on April 14, 2020 in the commission chambers unless something changes that.