City council ups fee for Memorial Building use

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

The Portales City Council approved rate increases Tuesday of 100-to-200 percent for the use of the city’s Memorial Building.

Typical rates for those leasing space were formerly estimated between $3 and $7 an hour with a $50 deposit.

Sammy Standefer, the city’s planning director, told council members those rates were the source of abuse by some who were leasing the building.

“When I say there was abuse, it was primarily with the $50 deposit,” Standefer said. “What happened is we’ve had several cases where it was cheaper for them to give us the $50 and have us clean it than for them to clean it themselves.”

The city council unanimously approved the rate changes,. The new amount for a deposit — which will be returned if the room is in the same condition as prior to the event — is now $300.

The other major change is weekend rates. Now they will be based on specific four-hour blocks and the amount charged can vary greatly.

“It depends on the use. We separate the uses into non-profit, private, dances or commercial. For example, if you wanted a four-hour block for the auditorium for commercial use, it would be $104 (total),” Standefer said. “The cheapest would be for a non-profit. A four-hour block in the auditorium would be $24. Actually, that’s not a huge increase of what it used to be.”

In other business, the council approved an application by the Portales MainStreet Program to the state program requesting money for design renovations around the Tower Twin movie theater building.

The Portales MainStreet Program plans on requesting $85,000 for a design that might incorporate ideas on turning the area into a pavilion serving as a home for events like the local Farmers Market.

Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega, not a voting member of the council, bristled at the idea of more money for an additional design.

“Are there other things that $85,000 could go to?,” Ortega asked. “It seems like we’ve done designs of downtown, it’s sort of a waste of time.”

Nicole Wilkening, community affairs coordinator for the city, said New Mexico Main Street is only granting awards for design and engineering for this round of applications. According to Wilkening, this application if granted, “will actually produce design documents.”

The measure was approved unanimously by the council.