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Raton Commissioners hear bad news on budget

RATON — Raton City Commissioners began their May 12th meeting with a budget hearing to establish a preliminary budget, but with troubling revenues, it will take a number of meetings to address. The bad news included a possible drop in gross revenue receipts by as much as 4%. However Kathy Harris, who spoke to the commission, indicated she had read the economic scene was not good for New Mexico overall, and a more realistic figure might be as much as a 10% drop in GRT. The other drop noted is in gas tax revenues. To add to the finance issues, Raton is also looking at a 12% increase in health insurance costs this year. The other increase in the budget is a 2.5% increase in salaries as negotiated by the union contracts. A fully revised budget will be presented on May 26th. The commission approved mutual aid agreements for Raton Fire and Emergency Services with Folsom EMS, Stonewall Fire Department and Fort Carson mostly for the unit at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. Raton Police Chief John Garcia presented a 15-minute report on the many activities the department is involved in and some of their future plans. The department has 14 officers working 12-hour shifts. Garcia is working to replace K-9 Aros hopefully by the end of June. He also noted violent crime has risen 17% while property crimes have decreased 9 % and larceny dropping 11%. Commissioners extended the grant agreement for pavement

work on First Street after the new water line is completed. They also agreed to pitch in $3,000 for expenses on the TIGER grant application the city of La Junta, CO is spearheading to keep Amtrak service in the region. They also approved budget adjustment #8 with the exception of where the funding for the TIGER grant will come from. It was initially expected to come from the lodgers’ tax but clarification is needed on whether that can be done. They tabled the Gordon Environmental request for the landfill professional services. Mayor Mantz then opened the floor for discussion on the Local Economic Development Act ordinance. Tim Hagaman, Community, Business and Rural Development Representative with the Economic Development Division, addressed the commission suggesting the board be made up of people from the community not just specific organizations. Others who spoke indicated community involvement was important, and there are people with expertise the city should tap to help vet a business that wants to move to Raton. Due diligence was another issue speakers suggested community involvement would be important in. The ordinance will have some wording changes made, and go through review before it can be passed. Commissioners appointed Patrick Dyer to the financial advisory board. City Manager Scott Berry noted 600 tire bales will be removed from the landfill soon. He noted the recycling center hosted first graders who he feels will be the best educators when it comes to recycling. Berry noted much of the water line installation was being done by directional boring which is less destructive since there isn’t a long ditch. Jason Phillips is continuing his work on environmental assessments and is hoping all will be complete in order to start work on Tiger Drive and First Street soon. The Multi-Modal center is also involved in the environmental assessments. Commissioners will meet again on May 26 at 6 pm and will be heard on KRTN AM1490.