Letters: Readers weigh in on issues of the day
George Werito will be missed
George Werito was a friend to all. A kind word, a handshake, and a smile. I am proud to be a long time friend of his. R.I.P., George.
Aztec leaders need to take a different tack
With the elections coming up in a month or so, maybe the people of Aztec will think about a new direction for our city. First, in the form of a disclaimer, I don’t live in the city and on the several times that I addressed the commission I was reminded of that. What gives me a stake in the election, is my business the Step Back Inn. I pay property tax, (part of which goes to the city), gross receipt tax (part of which goes to the city); I collect from guests a 5 percent lodging tax (all of which goes to the city) and employ seven people who live in or around the city. Aztec has one of the highest gross receipt tax rates (8 percent) in the state of New Mexico — as high as our resort communities and Santa Fe. So given those facts I think I have a right to make a few comments about how the city of Aztec administration and commissioners are not finishing started projects and spending our money.
I attended the meeting on the golf course and appreciate (Daily Times reporter) Joshua Kellogg’s report. One point that was totally missed, concerns paying 50 percent of the GROSS revenue to the winner of the (request for proposal) to manage the golf course this next year. Based on this year’s figures, the city lost $95,000 and with revenue of only $186,000. If the city pays 50 percent of the gross then the person getting the contract would automatically get $93,000, regardless of what the losses are at the golf course. If that contract were in place this year the city would lose 95k + 93k. What a deal!
The second observation by the mayor, Commissioners Sipe and Rogers was that the golf course is a quality of life issue like our parks, ball field, and trails. Which of course is inaccurate since the golf course is not in the city limits and is a business. Parks and trails are not a business. With limited general fund dollars to maintain parks in the city limits for all the residents and visitors, we don’t need funds siphoned off for a golf course outside the city limits.
The third point that was really never completely made was that every golf course in the county is losing money, as well as golf being on a decline across the nation. My question to the commissioners was what makes the city able to beat a national trend? I got no answer.
I love our community and our beautiful downtown area. I have requested a meeting where all the commissioners are present to allow the community to question “How the City is Spending our Money.” At the meeting the citizens have a chance to question ALL commissioners and hear their responses. To sit in the audience at workshops and commission meetings and not have dialogue with the commissioners is unacceptable. I requested that this be held prior to the city elections. “Public input” at commission meetings is ridiculous where there is no interaction from the commission. I don’t want to hear that is how it is done, because it didn’t use to be that way!
In addition to the golf course, I hope that many of the other concerns will be addressed.
- Public spaces that are not being adequately maintained and funded (ball parks, trails, tennis courts and public parks and museum)
- Public infrastructure that needs costly updates and replacement. (primarily the water control dams to protect the community during floods, streets cleaned after floods and during snow and ice events)
- Projects that have been started and not finished or not maintained.
- North Main extension in phase 0, is that to avoid putting in the infrastructure? If we have money for infrastructure then finish the North Main extension.
- U.S. Highway 550 bypass.
- Purchase of an empty building off Main Street with the intent to incubate or refurbish and rent for offices. Purchase to be within 2 years at $186,000 with another $72,000 in repairs and remodel. Yearly operating expenses of $55,000 with projected revenue of $58,000. One can just imagine what these actual costs will be. We have longtime business owners on Main Street who have buildings that are empty (more than 12 in a two block area) and are presently for sale or rent. Why isn’t the city working on those empty buildings instead of trying to be in competition with main street business owners.
- Infrastructure cost to the Microtel hotel of $250,000 (a business that failed to pay its subcontractors) and another $100,000 committed to infrastructure for an O’Rielly auto parts store. We have five auto parts stores, two locally owned stores that have been loyal community members for decades, and to bring another business that provides an unneeded service is ridiculous. Heads up Commission and City Manager, business is tough in Aztec!
The public coffers are running dry and an increase in taxes again is not what needs to happen. Neither should you be looking at tapping in to the bonding/reserves. Governments just like individuals need to live within their means and the city of Aztec is committing and has committed to spending more than is available. You need to reconsider the direction on the building on Church Street and spend the $100,000, if you have it, on already started projects.
Owner of the Step Back Inn in Aztec
A thanks to first responders and neighbors
A BIG thank you to the fire department, paramedics, ambulance, Miguel with Lincare who responded to my 9ll call after falling on the ice and snow in Aztec on Jan. 14. You all were great and very caring. Thank you also to our good neighbors Bob and Bonnie and Margaret who helped us out when we needed it.
We sincerely appreciate it.
Bob and Judy Piper