Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Planning and zoning fees plan not leaving Finance Committee | Local News

Members of Roswell’s Finance Committee have asked for more time — and information — before considering whether the Planning and Zoning Division’s schedule of new and revised fees for development applications should be recommended to the entire city council.

During their meeting on Thursday, one of the committee members pointed out that the schedule lacked comparisons with current charges for specific services.

“I’d like to see what we’re currently charging and what we’re proposing,” said Councilor Barry Foster.

Most of the fees being proposed are new, said Kevin Maevers, the city’s community development director.

The new fees schedule being presented is several pages long. Listing the city’s existing fees would take up less than a single printed page, however.

“A lot of stuff we just give away for free,” Maevers said.

And, he explained, the existing fees haven’t been updated for at least a decade.

Setting these fees was partially based on comparable service fees in other communities, among them being Hobbs, Carlsbad, Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

Foster also wanted to be able to compare the fees being proposed for Roswell with the fees in those communities, too.

The overall aim is not to overcharge but to more fully cover the costs of doing business while the Community Development Division works toward improving overall customer service.

Speedier responses and more conveniences for the public when they need to access these services are some of the improvements city officials want to see. More staff and equipment would also assist in achieving that goal, Maevers said.

Councilor Edward Heldenbrand asked about including impact fees. These are one-time payments to a city by developers that help the city recoup money and resources necessary to accommodate new development, such as added infrastructure and public services.

Maevers replied to Heldenbrand that an impact fee could be added to the proposed schedule before the document comes back to the committee in February.

The upcoming move to the Community Development Center on the ground floor of the Sunwest Center Office Complex is also thought to be a customer service booster. It’s going to be the combined location for the city’s real estate, planning and zoning, building and inspection, code enforcement and business license operations that are currently situated in separate spaces, Maevers also said.

Miniatures museum expansion

The Miniatures and Curious Collections Museum at 320 N. Richardson Ave., is one step closer to starting a significant expansion of the local museum that opened in 2017.

Committee members recommended the sale of the property next door, at 316 N. Richardson Ave., formerly known as Business Notions, to the museum.

The Roswell Public Library had been deeded the property, which was appraised at a value of $30,000 in November 2020, but the library had no need for the building. So the city issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) to find a buyer.

The museum was the only respondent to the RFP. Its proposal was evaluated by a selection committee and found to be worthy, said Todd Verciglio, the city’s real property manager.

The report recommended the museum as the purchaser for a variety of reasons. Expanding the museum would mean there was ample room to provide public workshops and further allow the attraction to bring art and culture to the community. And the museum, which opened in 2017, is already collecting private donations to pay for the expansion.

Its board members want to begin preparing the new space as soon as they pay for the property and take ownership.

Foster said he was still concerned the sale might be perceived by some as a “sweetheart deal” even with the property-use assurances provided by museum representatives in the RFP.

Councilors are scheduled to consider approving the sale when they meet on Thursday.

• Committee members recommended a budget increase of $177,000 to fully cover costs to the city for recreation services. The request is for $99,000 to pay temporary workers, $53,000 for janitorial services and $25,000 for part-time guards at the municipal pool.

This fiscal year allowed city staff to operate the Recreation and Aquatic Center for a significant period for the first time since it first opened in July 2019. There was an upswing of people returning to use recreation services after the height of the pandemic as well that played a role in the need for more money.

• Also recommended by committee members is the proposed fee schedule revision for Spring River Zoo, which would change prices for mostly memberships and charges for holding events there.

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