Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Contract extension tabled again


May 29, 2019

For a second time, the Tucumcari City Commission on Thursday tabled a possible contract extension with an Albuquerque marketing firm until it hears from the city’s Lodgers Tax Advisory Board next month.

City Manager Britt Lusk said the proposed one-year, $50,000 deal with the Sunny505 firm was “worthwhile,” and he attributed a $30,000 increase in lodgers tax revenue from its tourism marketing efforts for Tucumcari and Quay County. Lusk said Tucumcari likely would see more tourists in town this summer.

Joanie Griffin at Sunny505 provided the commission a detailed report of where its expenditures went during the past year. Most was spent with the New Mexico Tourism Department, it stated. The city also won a $66,539 grant for a video and photo shoot and advertising placement, with the city’s cost at $29,270.

Commissioner Ralph Moya said he was dissatisfied with Sunny505’s communication with the city and wanted input from the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board before proceeding.

“I’m definitely not happy with this contract at all, especially when I don’t hear anything until it’s time for renewal,” he said.

Lusk said Griffin had communicated with him at least weekly and often daily. He said Griffin was so confident the contract would be renewed, she applied for more grant money for more tourism projects.

Commissioner Christopher Arias agreed Griffin was in frequent communication with city hall and the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board, but it needed “to find a way of measuring the effect” of its efforts.

The commission voted 3-1 on Moya’s motion to not approve the contract renewal until hearing from the lodgers board. Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield cast the only dissenting vote. Mayor Pro Tem Todd Duplantis was absent.

The Lodgers Tax Advisory Board announced Friday its June 5 meeting was canceled and won’t meet until June 12 — one day before the city commission’s next meeting.

In other action by the commission:

• It approved a resolution requesting participation in the state’s 2019 Local Government Fund for the Second Street project in downtown. The city will ask for $500,000 with a 5% match, which project administrator Ralph Lopez said will cover two full blocks. Lopez said such contractors are busy this time of year, and it remains difficult to find one that will undertake the project because of the street’s concrete underlay and nearby historic buildings.

• It approved an agreement for a Tucumcari Municipal Airport pavement engineering report. The study will cost $100,030, of which the city’s share will be 1%, or slightly over $1,000, Lopez said. The study will make the airport eligible for more money on future projects, he said.

• It approved an agreement with the state’s Aging and Long Term Services Department for the city’s foster grandparent and senior companion program for 2019-2020. The $94,000 cost will be covered by a grant.

• It approved a letter to the Community Development Bureau chief requesting a budget amendment for the Aber Street Addition Project for water and street improvements. The amendment was necessary because the low bidder was $31,874.59 over the maximum allowable construction cost, project manager Sharayah Sisneros said. The city’s share of the cost, if the bureau approves the amendment, is $14,655.56 from water and street funds.

• It approved the appointment of Alida Brown to the Tucumcari Library Board. The Quay Countommission already had approved Brown for the post.

• It approved the appointment of Diana Cassidy as alternative municipal judge. She had worked for 25 years with local law-enforcement agencies. She was to be sworn into office this week.

— It approved the St. Anne’s Catholic Church Parish Picnic at Dunn Park, set for June 14.

• It met for 40 minutes behind closed doors to discuss Lusk’s evaluation and a possible contract extension. No action was taken when the commission reconvened in open session. Litchfield said during commissioners’ reports later in the meeting she appreciated his hard work and acceptance of constructive criticism.

In reports by the city manager and commissioners:

• Lusk said the Clean Water Fund has ranked the city’s wastewater project No. 1, and it has applied for a $5.5 million grant. He said he hoped for an agreement where the city’s share of the cost would be 20%, or about $1.1 million.

• Commissioner Amy Gutierrez said the city’s municipal pool had no opening date because a company is working on state-mandated upgrades for the pump station. Once an opening date is set, Gutierrez said the pool might offer extended hours the rest of the summer.

• Moya wanted a more thorough accounting of the city’s contributions to the Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation, including the value of office space, utilities and other items off the books. Noting the city’s tight budget, Moya said the city was getting a “lack of return” from the EDC.

• Litchfield read a letter from Al Hutchinson of Topeka, Kansas, expressing gratitude for the help his family received last month when his wife suffered a seizure while at the Blaze-N-Saddle RV Park and was admitted at Trigg Memorial Hospital. “The police, the paramedics, the RV park managers were all amazing,” Hutchinson’s letter stated. “John, the park manager, drove my daughter to the hospital; the police drove my daughter back and a nurse whose shift just ended drove me back to the RV park. And I simply cannot say enough good about the hospital doctors, staff and emergency room service.”


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