by Marty Mayfield
RATON — Raton City Commissioners met Tuesday evening in the commission chambers to discuss and approve several different items on the agenda and hear from Dee Burks of the Raton Chamber of Commerce about a request for the tourism coordinator position.
Commissioners began the business portion of the meeting hearing from Dee Burks concerning visitor numbers at the visitor’s center, noting that it has been two years since they took over the center. Burks noted that at the beginning of the spring the numbers for visitation were up by as much as 20% and were showing signs of increasing for the summer until the fires broke out in the area, and they saw a dramatic drop in numbers, especially from Texas, by as much as 40%. A full report on the visitor numbers and volunteer numbers will be presented to the commission later in the year.
Burks went on to inform the commission that the tourism coordinator Melissa Unger was moving on and that the primary reason for the departure was her treatment by the Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board. Burks noted that it was not good for an employee to be raked over the coals by a board that has no hiring and firing authority over that position and she is requesting that a small change be made in the MOU with the chamber to have the tourism coordinator report to the commission instead of the Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board. That change will likely come to the commission at the next meeting.
Commissioners approved the change of ordinance number that city treasurer Michael Anne Antonucci found when she was going through the ordinances. The ordinance that was numbered 998 should have been numbered 999 instead.
Commissioners approved the Juvenile Justice Application, which will go into the state for their final approval and to determine how much funding the programs will receive. Antonucci noted that they will continue to have the same programs that they had last year, which are the Girls Circle, Boys Council and Restorative Justice program.
Commissioners approved the change in the MOU with the CORJJCAB to change their name to CORCAB or City of Raton Continuum Advisory Board.
Commissioners also approved the amendment to the Aviation Grant for the Taxiway “A” Phase II project. The project will be totally funded according to an agreement with FAA and the state. The amendment is to change the amount that the state aviation fund will match which is $65,951 and that will also be the amount the city will match. Raton City Manager Scott Berry noted the project could begin within the next couple of weeks.
Antonucci noted that the GRT for this month was down and only .69% above the budget projection. She went on to say that this drop is earlier than expected but could be due to the loss of K-Mart. She noted there are three construction projects going on that will likely help but they will have to wait and see what the small cities assistance payment will be before they can breathe more easily. Mayor Neil Segotta Jr. noted that if you look at the GRT report for the last three years you will see a notable drop for this year from years past. The drop from last year at this time to this year was over $107,624. In the department head meeting, Antonucci told them to try to hold off making any big purchases until later in the fiscal year to see how things work out.
In the budget adjustments for FY19, a one-time transfer of funds was made in the lodger’s tax promotional and non-promotional funds to the contingency fund. The other budget adjustments were mostly line items to balance those individual funds out.
In the city manager’s report, Berry noted that he met with Congressman Steve Pearce and a group of five communities for a meeting on commercial greenhouse operation for communities looking to diversify their economies. Dr. Matthew Strong, who is an expert in indoor farming, along with Richard Lopez, who is a coordinator with the Department of Agriculture, were on hand to discuss the benefits of the programs. The meeting was an organizational meeting which also discussed some indoor farming practices.
Construction projects are underway in Raton, with Hospital Drive being a one-way street for a portion of the project. Berry has asked MCMC if they could open the gate allowing motorists to go out the south way by the nursing home. Friday is the Homecoming Parade on First Street and residents should exercise extra caution in the area as there will be some construction work going on in that area on Friday.
The city is working on the funding for a wheeled front-end loader in the amount of $147,673. He also noted that the city pulled water from the Cimarron River today but have faced many challenges in making that happen as flooding continues to bring debris down the river and is clogging up the works at the intake west of Cimarron.
Commissioners will meet again on October 9, 2018 at 6 pm for their next regular meeting.