The Independent

Edgewood eyes funding chamber, reorganization

Edgewood considered economic development through the Chamber of Commerce and updated its policy for use of town facilities slightly.

The council also continued its discussion of whether to reorganize to a clerk-administrator position with a deputy clerk, or keep its current administrator with clerk-treasurer.

A presentation by the Edgewood Chamber of Commerce put the town on notice that it will be seeking some $17,000 in funding, under extension of a contract for economic development activities.

“As an organization our commitment is to helping local business expand as well as attracting new businesses to the area,” board member James Reader said, adding that businesses are attracted by “great quality of life and where they can have a hand in shaping their town’s future through community involvement.”

Reader noted that the chambers of commerce in Moriarty and Los Lunas had recently folded. “Being situated geographically such as Edgewood is, it’s important that we grow as a town, or it’s likely we’ll die.”

He was followed by fellow board member Ray Seagers, who said that in order for the Edgewood Chamber to pay an executive director it needs the funding the contract extension would provide.

Seagers said he would like to see a continuation of regular meetings that had been held once or twice a month between the Chamber of Commerce and the town, and pointed to several accomplishments he said promote economic development in Edgewood.

The opening of the playground at Edgewood Elementary School campus, which no longer holds students, was reached through the efforts of the chamber, Seagers said. “We gained approval of the school board for approximately $400,000 worth of equipment open to the public. That’s a real quality of life improvement at virtually no cost to the town.

Seagers said a board member had brought Denny’s to Edgewood. He also pointed to a rewrite of the town’s sign ordinance some years ago, and said the first kiosk sign would be placed soon for businesses on Plaza Loop.

He said the Chamber would be promoting a “buy local” program. “It’s so important for people to know that when they spend money in Edgewood the money goes to Edgewood.”

The Chamber’s economic promotion committee initiated the town’s participation in a motel study, which Seagers said was instrumental in the hotel now being built by Scott McCall. He said the town is “competing with Moriarty” to get a Boys and Girls Club in town. “I think we can get them,” Seagers added.

Councilor Sherry Abraham commended the Chamber of Commerce for the expansion of several businesses in town: Bee Hive Homes, Sandia Laboratories Federal Credit Union, Vista Larga Veterinary Clinic, and Do Re Mi Bakery. “I think that’s a sign of a healthy economy,” she said, adding that she would like to see the Chamber of Commerce work on getting a commercial kitchen for community use.

Councilor Chuck Ring said he would like the Chamber to assist new businesses with a business plan “and they know what they’re doing.”

Mayor John Bassett pointed out that Edgewood had gotten a letter from the state’s DFA, or Department of Finance Authority, that said the town is “having problems with revenue versus expenses,” cautioning that the budget is tight.

Bassett had some questions for the function of the Chamber’s economic development committee. He wondered why Chamber members had not shown up to support a few different initiatives by local businesses, and asked if the town got quarterly reports as called for in the contract.

Seagers said the reports were turned over “when we have our meeting,” but said the meetings had not taken place for the past couple of months.

The contract also provides for $7,000 in travel on top of the $12,000, and Bassett asked whether the town had ever paid that. The town clerk said no.

Edgewood had also chipped in an additional $5,000 for the annual Run, Rally, Rock festival put on by the Chamber, outside the contract for services.

There was also some discussion of the role of EVEDA, the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association, and whether there was duplication of services between the two.

Chamber board member Tom Torres said the two functions are complimentary.

There was no action taken.

The council also continued its discussion of whether to take advantage of the retirement of two highly paid administrative positions to reorganize.

Both town clerk Estefanie Muller and administrator Steve Shepherd announced their retirements at the previous council meeting; Muller will end her employment with the town this week, while Shepherd will continue for about another month.

Bassett had suggested hiring instead a clerk-treasurer and deputy clerk instead.

Councilor Rita Loy Simmons expressed concerns that the positions are currently overworked and reducing staff. Bassett said staff numbers would be the same, replacing two positions with two different positions; he also wants to look at the budget to see if the town can afford a planner.

The council asked Bassett to bring a cost comparison back to the next meeting.

After some discussion about fees charged by the town for use of the community center or town fields, most of the council felt that the fees should remain, while Councilor John Abrams suggested the increased fees were competitive with surrounding communities.

The council voted to add a requirement for insurance for those using town facilities but did not raise fees.

The community center may not be used for gambling, dances or music, including radios, alcoholic beverages or religious services.

Youth groups have to have an adult chaperone. The insurance requirement says that users of town facilities must provide liability insurance, naming the town as insured.

Fees for use remain at $25 for one to four hours and $50 for four or more hours. Non-profit organizations pay $5. Cleaning and key deposits total $200.

The council recognized town clerk Estefanie Muller, whose final council meeting was last week. As Muller introduced her family to applause, Councilor Rita Loy Simmons’ dogs barked in approval as the meeting adjourned.