Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh answers a question from Daily Record reporter Jeff Tucker during an editorial staff interview Thursday. Kintigh has been meeting monthly with the newspaper’s editorial team to address any and all questions from the staff and the public. (Randal Seyler Photo)
Editor’s note: This is the third in a monthly series of interviews with Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh by Roswell Daily Record staff. Those with a question for the mayor may send queries to Daily Record editor Timothy Howsare at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to staff writer Jeff Tucker at email@example.com.
Is there a rule on the attendance of City Council members?
“No, there is no requirement that they attend,” Kintigh said.
How do you feel about the absenteeism of some city councilors at City Council meetings?
“It’s frustrating; summertime is understandable,” Kintigh said. “I am concerned that we have too much absences at times.”
Does the city have any facility to conference the City Council members who are physically absent?
“Yeah, you can,” Kintigh said. “Sharon Coll, the city clerk, and I are both rather frustrated with our whole telecommunications arrangement there in City Hall. The video over Cable One is not very good. We don’t have a good system of getting phone calls in. I don’t really like the phone calls coming in because then the councilors don’t have materials in front of them. Under the municipal code, that’s allowed, so we do it. I wish it was better. We need to work on that. We need to get that fixed.”
What are you going to do about absenteeism of City Council members?
“Here’s the thing we’ve done about it,” Kintigh said. “If you go to the (city’s) website, attendance is there. I asked Ms. Coll to put our attendance there. That’s the objective, transparency.”
What are the conditions of the city’s animal shelter?
“As far as I know, we have no issues with the animal control shelter, as far as the physical conditions there,” Kintigh said.
What are the Yucca and Way Finding capital projects?
”Way Finding is signage in the downtown area,” Kintigh said. “It’s part of the idea to help create a more visitor-friendly environment. Yucca, the fundamental issue that must be resolved is do we continue to repair the current Yucca center, or do we build a new rec center? What I have asked Councilor Tabitha Denny to do is to submit to the council an ordinance on that very issue. Let’s have a debate, let’s have a discussion and let’s, as a council, say we’re going to go one way or the other, because we’ve got to get that resolved first.”
Is the city working on facilitating the pedestrian traffic to pick up more franchises?
“One of the things I’d like to try and do on that is encourage people to take ownership and run with it,” Kintigh said. “They don’t need me to be in the middle of everything.”
Is the city going to break away from animal rescues?
“No, we’ve got like nine animal rescue groups that have fully signed the documentation and we’re releasing animals to them,” Kintigh said.
Will the animal rescue groups be invited to the City Council workshop on animal control on Aug. 20?
“They’re welcome to come,” Kintigh said.
Why give dogs with histories of biting to rescue groups?
“I don’t think we’re going to,” Kintigh said. “I’ve asked Councilor Jeanine Corn Best to take ownership of an effort to review completely what our policies, procedures and ordinances are regarding animal control and to work with the police department and animal control officers. I asked Councilor Best because she’s got a background in animal agriculture. She’s raised pets, she’s raised animals, she’s in 4-H and fully understands issues like this and I think has a real level head about this. She’s working on putting together some comprehensive stuff. But I know the police department’s working and trying to come up with better policies and procedures.”
Are there different standards for releasing dogs with bite records to animal groups and individuals?
“I don’t believe so,” Kintigh said. “I don’t believe we’re going to release dogs with bite records. I’ll have to double check.”
How much input are other city councilors getting into what Jeanine is doing?
“If they have an interest, I’m encouraging them to talk to her,” Kintigh said. “I know Tabitha Denny has some interest. Some folks have a passion and interest in this discussion. If you don’t, I don’t want to put burdens on people. They’ve got other interests.”
Are there different standards for rescue groups and individuals who want to acquire animals from the city shelter?
“There are, because the people who are adopting have to commit to spay and neutering,” Kintigh said. “They have to pay a higher fee. Animal rescue groups commit to eventually having the animal spayed or neutered by the final owner. They can have the animals and not have them immediately spayed or neutered. That’s another issue Councilor Best really wants to look at, because I have heard complaints that people are circumventing the current requirement that they spay or neuter adopted animals, that they are getting around it, so animals that are being adopted are not actually being spayed or neutered like they’re supposed to be.”
Is there a way to combine the adoption fees with the spay and neutering fees into one fee?
“That is exactly the kind of answer that Councilor Best is looking at,” Kintigh said. “She’s also looking at the facility we have and the possibility of actually having the spaying or neutering done there at the animal shelter with a contract vet so that they don’t even go out the door until they’ve been spayed or neutered. That’s a concept she’s expressed to me that she wants to explore. I think it sounds reasonable.”
How do you feel about a statement by Animal Control supervisor Joseph Pacheco in the July 24 edition of the Roswell Daily Record in which Pacheco said, “We’re the most hated town in the country?”
“We can’t combat that,” Kintigh said. “Are we the most hated, I’m not sure about that, but we have a lot of animosity. There are emails I’ve gotten, they talk about getting a bullet, this, that and the other thing, and that I’m also responsible for the horse slaughter.”
What do you do about negative perceptions of the city as a consequnce of the horse slaughter proposal, animal rescue group complaints and arsons in the city?
“You have to keep focusing on trying to do the correct things,” Kintigh said. “You can’t allow these distractions to take away from your efforts of doing what I campaigned on, clean and safe. Cleaning stuff up, making the community safe. Because if you try and deal with a PR issue, as opposed to attacking the root problems, then you will not get the root problems done. All the PR in the world is worthless if you don’t solve the inherent problems. I believe if we deal with the underlying problems, the other stuff becomes fluff.”
Are there any leads on the arsons and who is involved in the investigation?
“The investigation is being done by the fire department and the police department,” Kintigh said. “I’ve met with them and I talked with ATF before I went on vacation. I was gone for about 12 days. That’s as far as I want to go at this point.”
Does the city have sufficient staff for an effective investigation of the string of arsons?
“I’ve asked ATF for some resources, and resources because of expertise,” Kintigh said. “Arson investigation is tough. I made some specific requests of some things to them. I have some things I’d like to see done, whether they get done or not, I don’t know. Here’s part of the challenge: I ain’t the lead investigator. I ain’t even the chief of police. I’m the mayor, which means I have to step back. I can say suggestions. I can make comments, but it is not within the scope of my authority to direct a criminal investigation. In some ways, that’s challenging.”
What is the status of recruitment at the police and fire departments?
“I know the fire department is working hard on that. I talked briefly with Chief Hamill,” Kintigh said. “They were actually (personnel) from other fire departments that were interested in our department, and that’s great. At the PD, they are talking about another recruiting trip up to Michigan. They tend to want to go when school is in session because those are junior college environments and the students are on campus and they can do the job fair.”
If a guy works for the water department or a gal is a secretary at the library, can she apply, can he apply, at the fire department?
“Sure, absolutely,” Kintigh said.
The mayor was asked if there are barriers to changing jobs in city government.
“I would hope not,” Kintigh said. “If there is, we want to know about that. If somebody is experiencing that, we need to know, I need to know, so we can address it because we don’t want to have that.”
Do you feel the Roswell and Hispano chambers of commerce should be combined?
“It’s not my decision to make,” Kintigh said. “The Hispano chamber exists because individuals chose many years ago to create that organization. It’s a voluntarily established organization. It has membership. If the individuals there want to have a separate chamber from the Roswell chamber, that’s their call.”
But why should the city fund both?
“They do different things,” Kintigh said. “They reach different constituencies. I meet on a monthly basis with both chambers at joint meetings. I know that people have expressed that desire to see them combined. The only way that will happen will be if the members of the organizations decide they want to have it. Many cities in New Mexico have separate Hispano chambers and regular chambers. The Hispano chamber in Albuquerque is huge.”
Are you going to be in this month’s Mud Run?
“Yes,” Kintigh said.
Are the city councilors using too much of the travel budget? Is there a qualitative measure to determine how much the city benefits from the travel?
“No,” Kintigh said. “Some city councilors won’t spend any money at all on travel, and others will spend a great deal. What’s the appropriate way to handle that? I’m not sure. It’s an interesting issue. I haven’t had an opportunity to really explore it yet. I want to. I haven’t done it yet though.”
What happens to the convention center fee account if the convention center is not built? How much is going to be lost in administrative fees?
“Right now, it’s up to like $300,000,” Kintigh said. “We’re looking at generating about $600,000 a year on that. There are several restrictions on how it can be spent. I’m not even sure if the city can collect an administrative fee. This is one of only two taxes that city collects directly. The other one is lodgers tax. All the other stuff goes to the state and it comes back to us. The lodgers tax and this comes straight to the city. That means we have staff that are handling things like collecting it, checking, making sure it’s done correctly, make sure we’re getting the right amount, depositing it in the account, monitoring the accounts, administrative type roles. Does the city not deserve to get some funding for doing these administrative jobs? We’re looking at that from the lodgers tax perspective. This one here, we’re only able to use it in connection with infrastructure for a convention center.”
Are you frustrated with the lack of transparency from federal officials regarding the health conditions and status of illegal immigrants at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia?
“Yes,” Kintigh said. “All kidding aside, it is not good for local officials to learn about major items from the media. They don’t have to call me immediately. We need to have some communication that we’re made aware of this because you don’t want people to be spinning out of control. I believe facts and data will ultimately triumph over confusion and innuendo.”
Who do you call when you have questions about the detention of immigrants at FLETC?
“Usually, Congressman Pearce’s office,” Kintigh said.
The mayor was asked if the city’s 600-employee workforce is too large, too small, or just about right.
“We need to take a look at what are all the positions,” Kintigh said. “This is the kind of structured, sober, serious, slow, careful type of analysis I’d like to see us to do.”
Does 600 city employees seem high to you?
“No,” Kintigh said.
Along with a public information officer for the police department, what about a public information officer for the city in place of a marketing director or along with the marketing director?
“I’ve talked to the chief about utilizing the PD PIO for some city stuff, because most of the public information is going to come from the police department,” Kintigh said. “That tends to be where it comes from. I’m not 100 percent comfortable with the idea of a second PIO because I don’t think there is necessarily enough work to justify that full-time position. I try to make myself available to the media as much as possible, but I might not be the best guy to do it.”