Councilors approve raise for city employees

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Portales city councilors approved expansion of the Yam renovation project and OK’d a 3 percent raise for city employees following a positive report as they made their mid-year budget adjustments Tuesday during their regular meeting.

“Basically we’re very strong and healthy,” City Manager Debi Lee said. “We got our gross receipts tax report in the other day and we have exceeded our projections each month.”

City Attorney and lodgers tax committee member Steve Doerr and MainStreet Portales President Danny Woodward presented the plan for expanding the scope of the project at the Yam to include adjacent properties that had been purchased by the city in cooperation with MainStreet. Doerr said the changes would move the seating capacity of the historic building from approximately 130 under the original plan to 350 and make it into what he called the “Historic Yam Theater and Convention Center.”

Doerr said $120,000 had been set aside by the lodgers tax board over the years to go toward a convention center. He proposed using that money along with additional grants MainStreet has applied for, to finance the $176,000 in additional work. The renovation had originally been estimated to cost $723,000.

Lee said the city had originally been concerned about the raises when it was learned that language in the new minimum wage bill was going to adversely impact the budget through additional overtime. Lee told coucilors she was reasonably sure that the state Legislature would act to correct the problem in January and a restructuring of staffing in the fire department, where the biggest impact would be, should be sufficient to lessen the impact.

She said that the raises were similar to what the city offered last year at mid-year.

“Actually it really looks better than I ever thought it would,” said Councilor D. K. Shafer, chairman of the finance committee. “I don’t have any problems with any of it (budget adjustments); I just wanted to make sure everyone understood,” he said of Doerr’s presentation.

Other minor adjustments were included in the measure.

In other business councilors:
• Approved a resolution updating the city’s purchasing policy to reflect state standards.

• Approved the execution of a loan and intercept agreement with the N.M. Finance Authority for the purchase of a fire pumper truck.

• Awarded a bid for $31,846.61 to K. Barnett and Sons for walkway improvements at the Portales Sports Complex.

• Were informed that a report on the Extra Territorial Zoning effort would be ready by Council’s next meeting Jan. 15.