At Tuesday, Nov. 12, evening's Silver City Town Council meeting, several election announcements were made
First, however, was public input, where Faye McCalmont, Mimbres Region Arts Council executive director and member of the Silver City Arts and Cultural District, said the ACD, along with Silver City MainStreet and the Safety and Security Committee, have been meeting monthly or bi-monthly to address security issues in the downtown area.
"I want to commend Chief Reynolds," McCalmont said. "He has attended every meeting or has sent a representative. He has presented interesting programs, including speakers. He has been very responsive to this group and the merchants."
During council comments, Mayor James Marshall announced that he would not be seeking re-election as mayor this time. "I will save further comments until later."
District 4 Councilor Mike Morones said: "I have decided to throw my hat into the mayoral race. I will try to continue the non-partisan way the mayor has run the town and these meetings. I had said when I ran for councilor that I would only be running for two terms as councilor, but there are still some economic programs I want to work toward. I appreciate everyone's support. I look forward to a good campaign against whoever will run for mayor. I encourage someone to run for the District 4 councilor position."
Councilor José Ray Jr. told Marshall he would be missed as mayor.
"A movie was made on Boston Hill," Ray continued. "The movie set was in a cave. It was a good thing to make a movie here. It opens up possibilities for Silver City. The reason they had vehicles up at the site was because they had to have EMTs on site. I know the city made a resolution against motorized vehicles on Boston Hill, but we have to think outside the box."
Councilor Polly Cook said she went up looking for the damage she had heard about. "I have a photo of it, but I didn't think it was that bad. Congratulations to the mayor. Enjoy retirement."
Councilor Cynthia Bettison congratulated Marshal and Morones on their announcements. "I was encouraged to run for mayor, but after thinking it over, I realized the position I hold is better for me. I like to be able to vote, so I will not seek the mayor's position. I enjoy being a councilor."
Cissy McAndrew, Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce gave a Visitor Center first quarter 2013 report. "We took it over in August 2011. We are seeing things turn around, including getting locals coming in to get information to send to families and friends, which is the No. 1 way people find out about Silver City."
She showed a pie chart of the percentages of visitors from various regions and areas. About 34 percent come from Arizona, Texas, California and Colorado, with 27 percent from other U.S. areas; 5.1 percent from Canada and 6.7 percent, other international. McAndrew said locals were also coming in to use the computer and often leave a donation. Others come in for the Wi-Fi availability. Part of lodgers' tax funding went to the computer and a printer for maps.
"We also have a meeting space, which people and groups can book," McAndrew said. "We have several samples of the proposed chairs for the Silco Theater. People can try them and vote for their favorite."
She pointed out an article in the October issue of Money Magazine, which featured wineries, but included the Visitor Center and the Western New Mexico Museum.
Tours are beginning to arrive in Silver City. "We started doing tours for WNMU Orientation to help parents understand we were welcoming their child to town. When bus tours arrive, we tell them about restaurants. We work with visitor centers across the state. An Archaeology Conference will be held here in the spring. We guide folks to the museums. Downtown merchants report seeing pre-2009 numbers. Several properties are for sake downtown. We thank the town for the mixed-use zoning, because people are looking for a place to live and work. We are fully staffed with 13 volunteers and seven part-time volunteers."
The next item of business was to adopt an ordinance, which Town Manager Alex Brown explained was the next step in renewing a one-eighth of one percent gross receipts tax for public safety. He said the next step would be an election resolution putting the question to voters on the March 4, 2014, municipal ballot.
"This is not a new tax," Brown said. "It is a continuation to use the .125 of a percent gross receipts tax to pay salaries and benefits for three police officers, one firefighter and equipment for both departments. It is 12.5 cents on every $100 purchase. If it is voted down, the town will lose three police officers and one firefighter. At no time will the Town Council be able to change the use of the money unless the issue goes back out to voters."
Morones said the only people he had heard say the town had too many police officers were "people who weren't from here. It would undermine what the town does if you vote against it."
Bettison said she, too, was in support of the ordinance. "It meshes with the sustainability plan and the changes that will happen with climate change."
Brown said the gross receipts tax funding has been used to purchase a ladder truck and several police vehicles. "Maintenance for the vehicles is paid out of the town's General Fund."
"It is important to look at the big picture," Marshall said. "The state has attacked local communities. In order not to raise state taxes, it is requiring local communities to increase taxes. We have to compensate. This tax, already in place, needs to continue. Over the first 10 years of the ordinance, we have proven we have used this funding properly. To put this tax at risk has a huge possibility of impact on the community. If this tax goes away, your roads won't get fixed, because that money will go to the health, safety and welfare of the residents. I don't want to add a burden or create unnecessary burdens on residents, but I beg the public to support the continuance of this tax.
Brown said the question for the ballot would be a discussion item at the Dec. 10 Town Council meeting. "It will be short and sweet."
Marshall said it is important for the public to understand the money will be used only for public safety. "We will work together for approved language."
New business will be covered in part 2 of this report.