Photos and article by Roger Lanse
The retirement of Silver City Police Chief Ed Reynolds, a 37-year veteran of the Silver City Police Department, was announced by Town Manager Alex Brown at the Tuesday, May 15, Silver City Town Council meeting. Brown stated the last official work day for Reynolds will be May 26, and praised the outgoing chief as having done an excellent job, but has decided to move on.
Reynolds addressed council by saying “I put together a speech, and then I threw that speech away. I thought it was important to speak from the heart.” He thanked council and mayor, former councils and mayors, and staff for having a professional administration. He also thanked the sworn personnel and the civilian staff of the department for their tireless dedication. Law enforcement is not a job, he said. “It’s a noble cause."
Brown also announced Capt. Freddie Portillo would be stepping in as acting chief. Portillo told council that he has been on the Silver City police force for 12 years and looks forward to building community relations and the citizen’s trust. He stated he plans to be proactive within the Silver School District and priorities are to look at restructuring of the police department and the hiring of new officers.
District 4 Councilor Guadalupe Cano remarked that she has heard from several residents that the exhibits in general at the Silver City Museum do not reflect our community. “We have a lot of things that come in that are from other places – the last two have been centered on another country, Cano said. “There’s a lot of community people that are interested in finding a way to make our museum a little more reflective.”
District 2 Councilor Lynda Aiman-Smith reminded residents that the summer library programs are set to kick off soon, and they are awesome, and reach all age-groups.
Mayor Ken Ladner commented he has received many compliments from downtown businesses about the flower boxes provided by the Community Youth Building Program.
Gary Stailey, who heads the CYBP, outlined to council that the program seeks to develop competency in youth so those not necessarily college-bound will be familiar with marketable skills as they leave high school. Ages of the young people in the program range from 12 to 17. Stailey continued saying he hopes to develop an apprenticeship program where the teens are paid a stipend and would work about three hours three to four days a week.
Assistant Town Manager James Marshall said the next Territorial Charter workday will be June 9, at Hidden Park, which is between 38th and 41st streets. For more information, residents can call 534-6349 or stop by the Community Development Department at 1203 N. Hudson Street. Residents can also enter volunteer preferences on the town’s website.
Council approved a special dispenser application for the Kneeling Nun Bike Run at 101 E. College Avenue on May 25-26, with alcohol service from 4-11 p.m. on Friday, May 25, and from noon to 11 p.m. on the 26th.
Council went into executive session to discuss the bargaining strategy with the Fraternal Order of Police Silver City Police Officers Association. Coming out of the closed session Brown stated the town has negotiated a two-year contract with the Association, which will cost the town around $43,000 this year and the same next year. “It’s very hard to recruit and keep police officers these days.” Brown said this agreement is a move that will allow the town to keep officers for a longer time. Council approved the agreement.
Council also approved a notice of intent ordinance to adopt the town’s election code. Town Attorney Robert Scavron said that because of the town’s territorial charter, the town now gets to decide its election code not the state, thanks to a lot of hard work by staff.
According to Scavron, “State legislature passed a local election act. This, basically, is a game-changer for most municipalities throughout the state. The town took a position that our territorial charter is unique and a provision of the territorial charter says that we get to determine how to do our local elections. There was a contest in the state legislature about the rights of the territorial charter and the power of the state legislature to overcome those powers (Ed.: rights).” However, “We prevailed,” Scavron stated, “getting the state legislature to recognize the existence of our territorial charter, which is, I believe, the first time the legislature in its history, since 1912, has actually recognized the validity of the Silver City Territorial Charter.”
Brown, in regard to the 2018-2019 budget, said that, “We are going to have to pay more if we continue to recycle the way we are right now because of the costs. We can continue doing what we’re doing and afford to pay the additional costs without a rate increase. I’m not going to propose any rate increases in either the water-sewer fund or the sanitation fund. Gross receipts taxes though, I’m going to recommend we pass one of the hold harmless one-eighth increments to be effective January 1.” That increment will add about $98,000 to the budget, Brown said.
Brown said he needs feedback from council regarding lodgers’ tax. It has been discovered, Brown said, that tourist surveys reveal many only heard about one event when there were several in town the same dates. Since, so far this year, the town has collected 15 percent more in lodgers’ tax than last year, Brown stated, he suggested rather than awarding large grants to applying organizations to advertise their own events, to make smaller awards in the normal application process and use the larger amount of lodgers’ tax funds to hire a marketing firm to advertise all the events so tourists stay longer to take part in multiple experiences as they have indicated they would do.