By Eric Butler
Clovis City Commissioners seemed to take great pleasure delaying the approval of the second year of Raymond Mondragon’s two-year contract as city manager. At least three commissioners paused with “uh…” before saying yes — part of a unanimous vote on the matter.
“You guys are terrible,” Mondragon said after the tally was taken. He will continue in his role for another year as no discussion took place on that agenda item Tuesday at a regular commission meeting.
“I expected it, but I’m very excited about it,” said Mondragon, who is paid $104,507 per year as an independent contractor. “Clovis is a city on the move; we’re going places. Being born and raised in Clovis, I’m very pleased to be part of it.”
Earlier in the meeting, Mondragon presented the outline of a five-year capital improvement plan for the city — a plan that included hoped-for continued construction of West Seventh Street and development of the city’s drainage system.
The five-year plan was approved without dissent at Tuesday’s meeting, as were the recommendations of the city’s Charter Review Committee. Among the minor revisions, the committee recommended city voters repeal the two-term limit on commissioners.
City attorney David Richards said that the term limit was contrary to the state constitution, according to a ruling by the New Mexico Court of Appeals 10 years ago. That ruling came in response to a challenge made to a term limit for an Albuquerque municipal elected official.
Residents in Clovis could technically vote to keep term limits when the issue comes before them, which is required before the city charter can be changed, but Richards said that such limits would inevitably not stand up if challenged under law.
“We’ll take it before the voters, I think, in March,” said commissioner Lunell Winton, chairperson of the Charter Review Committee. “We’ll try to make it clear what it’s all about, so there’s no misunderstanding.”
In other commission business, Pamela Pittman’s request for a variance to turn a residence on West Street into a church was denied by commissioners by a 5-1 vote.
The city’s Planning & Zoning committee had previously denied Pittman’s request, but she appealed to the city commission Tuesday.
Pittman said that the house was utilized as a church from 1967 to 1987 and that a minimum three-acre requirement of land to run a church was not being enforced for other churches in Clovis.
But Louis Gordon, Planning & Zoning administrator for the city, pointed out that those churches were not in residential/single-family zoning areas — as is the one proposed by Pittman.
“I cannot purchase three acres of land in that area — it’s just not feasible,” Pittman told commissioners. “I shouldn’t be required to when other churches don’t have to. I should be given the latitude and leniency the others do.
“I understand that there are codes and ordinances, but I also understand the right thing needs to be done,” Pittman added. “The word of God needs to go forth.”