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County Commission to make three proclamations

The Grant County Commission work session began Tuesday, May 7, with County Manager Jon Paul Saari giving the expenditures report since the last meeting.

The expenditures, as of May 7, 2013, were $1,379.573.22. Asked why the amount was larger than usual, Saari said payments included the purchase of a fire truck for the Cliff-Gila Volunteer Fire Department with fire excise funds and expenditures on completion of items for the Grant County Business and Conference Center.

Commissioners at the Thursday, May 9, 2013, regular meeting will make three proclamations—declaring May 9 as Children's Mental Health Awareness Day; declaring June 2-8 as First New Mexico Bank Wild, Wild West Pro Rodeo Week; and recognizing the Cobre High School Band for winning state for the 14th time.

During the regular session, Ed Wilmot will address the commissioners on a potential waiver request for Wind Canyon II and give results of a community meeting, concerning bringing roads in the subdivision up to standards.

Intergovernmental transfers/sales of several vehicles will be approved or disapproved. They include three vehicles from the Grant County Senior Programs—a 2005 Dodge Caravan and a 2002 Chevrolet S-10 truck will be sold to the Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department for $500 each. The third vehicle will be a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan to the Grant County DWI Program for $500.

Commissioners will consider a name change for the Business and Conference Center to Grant County Veterans' Memorial Business and Conference Center. Saari explained that the words business and conference must be in the title of the building, because of stipulations in the grant, which paid for improvements to the exterior and also because a business incubator is planned for the interior.

Boundary amendments to the maps of the volunteer fire departments of Cliff-Gila, Fort Bayard, Lower Mimbres, Pinos Altos, Santa Rita, Sapillo Creek, Tyrone, Upper Mimbres and Whiskey Creek will be amended to eliminate gaps in service.

Commissioners will consider appointing Keith Buffington to the Grant County Shooting Range Advisory Board. Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked how long the term would be. Saari said the term would complete the late Bill Van Dran's term. Next month the commission will consider creating and staggering terms.

Also under consideration will be a resolution to issue a notice of intent to consider an ordinance relating to a gross receipts tax for quality of life bonds.

Saari said bond counsel Perry Bendicksen would attend the meeting when an oridnance was under discussion.

"This is not a quality of life tax," Saari said. "It will be a capital tax for infrastructure. This notice of intent is to start the process. No projects are attached to the tax."

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said it was necessary to make clear to the public that it is not a property tax.

Kasten said, according to Silver City Town Manager Alex Brown, residents  pay 60 percent of gross receipts taxes in the county, with the other 40 percent being paid by visitors to the area.

"This tax will be for types of projects, not specific projects," Saari clarified.

Kasten said at the recent Gila Economic Development Alliance Forum on the topic, about 125 people attended, most of whom applauded the effort, with some naysayers.

"I've received a lot of calls," Commissioner Ron Hall said. "They've all been positive. We want community thoughts and ideas. It's important for all of us to have input. It was great to see the positive discussion."

Ramos said he, too, has received many calls, with nothing negative, although there were other requests, such as a recreation center for kids.

Hall said many of those he talked to, especially the seniors, are excited about a swimming pool.

Saari said he has received many calls on the movie theater idea. "It would cost $2.5 million to build. A theater loses $35,000 a year on films, but makes its money on concessions. The only way to have a theater is for someone, like us, to build the theater and hire someone to run it."

"At least three corporations are interested in operating a theater," Kasten said. "One big question I keep getting is where. We will go out to a request for proposal on the where. As soon as the tax is passed, the town of Silver City will make sure there is a memorandum of understanding for the swimming pool, so everyone in the community gets to use it. Virtually everything will be fee-based, so you pay for what you use. June 13 will be the ordinance meeting for the gross receipts tax."

Commissioners will approve or disapprove an RFP for engineering services at the airport. "We have four applicants," Saari said. "We gave points to each and WH Pacific came out highest. We will recommend the company on Thursday.

Saari said, as far as Gila Regional Medical Center goes, the hospital will have to become less dependent on federal funds. "Even the University of New Mexico hospital has postponed its expansion. The Legislature will likely look at ways to diversify the funding."

County Extension Agent Judy O'Loughlin introduced Sara Sayles, who will help with the animal side of the office, as well as coordinating 4-H activities. "We will also have an intern from New Mexico State University this summer. Marlee Runyan will help on animal projects."

O'Loughlin announced the 4-H teams had done well at a national land competition in Oklahoma last week. Grant County had a third high individual and a sixth high individual, and the team placed third overall nationally. "We appreciate your support."

County reports will be covered in a subsequent article.

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