Serving the High Plains

City OKs lodgers tax funding

The Tucumcari City Commission vote 4-1 to approve most Lodgers Tax Advisory Board funding recommendations for festivals and tourism entities, except it stripped $25,000 from Rockin’ Route 66 and reallocated it.

Commissioner Ralph Moya, irked by Rockin’ Route 66’s virtual concert in Georgia in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, insisted on removing the $25,000 recommended by City Manager Mark Martinez and moving the funds to miscellaneous funding. (The lodgers tax board had recommended only $20,000 for Rockin’ Route 66.)

Those miscellaneous funds still can be used by Rockin’ Route 66 for its 2023 festival or be given to another entity that has expressed interest in launching another music festival in Tucumcari.

Martinez also recommended using another $25,000 in lodger tax executive funds to fund Rockin’ Route 66, which was the city’s largest festival. Promoter Brian Whitcomb had requested $69,000 in an amended application. Martinez said Whitcomb’s higher funding request is due to his plans to make Rockin’ Route 66 an entirely free event.

Moya, however, balked on the recommendation.

Moya said he was reluctant to approve $25,000 to Rockin’ Route 66 until he hears “more solid numbers” about the festival. City Commissioner Mike Cherry, who is a liaison to the lodgers tax board, expressed misgivings, as well. Moya said he was amenable to Commissioner Christopher Arias’ suggestion to hold a city work session with Whitcomb to discuss the event.

During commissioners’ vote on Moya’s motion, Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield cast the only “no” vote.

The final funding for festivals and entities:

• $2,000 for Down at the Depot;

• $9,000 for Fired Up;

• $30,000 for the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce;

• $12,000 to Tucumcari Rotary Club to refurbish the “T” on Tucumcari Mountain;

• $7,386 for Rattler Reunion;

• $5,000 for electrical work at Tucumcari Historical Museum;

• $3,325 for three events at the historical museum.

Regarding a second music event, Martinez said he was in talks with the New Mexico Music Commission that would match funds for a possible festival in Tucumcari. He mentioned briefly it was AMP Concerts, a New Mexico-based nonprofit that organizes shows all over the state. AMP was an item on the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board’s agenda in May, but it was removed before the meeting began.

In the only other action item on the commission’s agenda, commissioners approved a revised agreement regarding pavement maintenance to a runway at Tucumcari Municipal Airport. The only change to the pact was its funding source; the cost remains the same to the city.

City reports

• In his city manager report, Martinez said the city has enacted a burn ban, joining virtually all other entities or municipalities in Quay County, “until the climate improves.” He said commissioners soon will have to determine whether the city will host the annual Fourth of July fireworks display due to tinderbox conditions.

On a related note, Martinez said the city is doing its part to help victims of wildfires, especially those in the Las Vegas area. A fire engine and two firefighters recently were dispatched to the scene.

He said the city cannot deploy an emergency shelter outside of the county, but it has 200 cots and blankets it can use at any time.

“As soon as we’re called upon, we will answer,” he said.

• Martinez said he likely would call a special work session to discuss funding to repair or replace the city pool, which has not operated since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and later due to a severe leak.

He said among possible funding sources for the pool are settlement from a gross-receipts tax lawsuit, more than 5% tax revenue from cannabis sales, or some city savings. Martinez pledged to reopen the pool by 2023.

• Martinez mentioned the city is considering a change in meeting times. No start time was mentioned, but he said many officials would like to be done by 5 p.m. He said fears of lack of public involvement because of earlier meetings are rendered moot by available technology that allows residents to speak, share input or watch sessions remotely.

• In commissioners’ reports, Moya listed repairs needed at Veterans Park, including a new cable on its flagpole and fixes to its irrigation system.

• Litchfield said nearly 280 motorcyclists will drive through Tucumcari on Route 66 about 1:20 p.m. May 20 as part of the Run for the Wall, an annual cross-country trek for veterans advocacy that runs from California in Washington, D.C.

Public comments

• Julie Sursa expressed concern about the TA Travel Center truck stop planned in 2023 at South First Street and Interstate 40. She said residents who live nearby have been ignored about its possible effects, including traffic congestion on Highway 209.

“The people that live there will have to put up with the noise … the trash,” she said. “It’s not a benefit for the people.”

She said the truck stop would mar views of nearby Tucumcari Mountain.

“Why would we put a pimple on the face of the mountain, because that’s what it is?”

• Wayne Fought urged the installation of at least two stop signs each along South Fourth and Fifth streets between Tucumcari Boulevard and Washington Avenue to slow “speed racers.” Fought said some motorists drive on those streets at 55 to 65 mph, and he feared pedestrians or children would be hit.

Cherry pointed out because Fourth and Fifth streets are listed as arterial, it likely would require an adjustment to the city’s comprehensive plan. Litchfield agreed that racing on those streets is a problem.

• Kristine Olsen, representing the chamber of commerce, said the upcoming Pinata Fiesta in early June is seeking participants for its parade and vendor booths. She said the event would include a dance and a pinata decorating contest.

• Connie Loveland, director of Tucumcari MainStreet, requested and was granted a city work session at 5 p.m. May 23 to discuss its upcoming contract with the state MainStreet organization.