At the beginning of the Grant County Commission work session meeting on Tuesday, May 21, Chairman Brett Kasten asked for a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the Oklahoma tornado and for the bicyclist who lost his life last week in the Sapillo Valley.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari asked that the agenda for Thursday be changed to allow the budget to be discussed first, so that he could attend his son's 5th grade graduation.

At Thursday's regular meeting, two public hearings will be held. The first will address the adoption of an ordinance "Pledging the Distributions of Environmental Services Gross Receipts Tax Revenue Bonds received by the County of Grant, NM, from the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue… to repayment of the Southwest Solid Waste Authority Solid Waste System Improvement and refunding revenue bonds, series 2013…"

Saari explained the bonds would consolidate existing SWSWA debt. Commissioners will approve or disapprove the issuance of the bonds.

The second public hearing will address a request for a variance from the County Subdivision Regulations from B.T. Enterprises for the Wind Canyon II Subdivision, Phases IV and V.

Saari said the county has been working on bringing up roads in the area to standards so the county can accept them into its inventory and maintain them.

County Planner Anthony Gutierrez said he has been working on the issue for about two years to reduce overall costs. He explained that he is certified in soils and testing and found a type D base course that he believes will work. "The regulations call for type C, but my recommendation is to do the variance. The type D base course should provide a good material and keep the roads in good shape. I talked to Earl (Moore, Road superintendent) and he told me he didn't think the material would impact his equipment. I presume we are setting a precedence, and I think it will be beneficial to other county roads."

County Attorney Abigail Robinson asked him to talk about the terrain and how the variance makes sense.

"There is a wide range of different sizes of base course," Gutierrez said. "It's a matter of how well the rocks will fit together in base course. We did plasticity tests showing clay in some places. The R value determines how much compaction and retention can be achieved. On some roads, the R value was high. A couple of the roads are low in R value. Those with high clay, we will recommend be covered with base course, and, in areas with large rocks, we will also recommend base course.  Base course is designed to be between asphalt and the sub-base. There are lots of areas around Grant County where this type D material will work to decrease the amount of washboarding, which is what we get the most complaints on. This system may reduce our use of base course. "

Commissioners will approve or not.

Saari said the expenditures for the past two weeks were $1,109,499.06, with the construction on the Business and Conference Center costing almost $354,000.

A proclamation will be made on Thursday naming June 1 as National Trails Day. Commissioner Gabriel Ramos asked if the trails people knew how many trails would be closed in the Gila National Forest. Saari said he thought the focus of the Trails Day was trails to connect areas within the city.

On Thursday, commissioners will appoint two members and an alternate to two-year terms for the Grant County Protest Board. Assessor Randy Villa recommended the same individuals be re-appointed.

Also to be approved or disapproved is a project agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation Aviation Division for $100,000 to create an Airport Action/Development Plan.  Saari said the plan would include the proposed plan for a new crosswind runway at the east end of the paved runway. The new runway would allow the airport to look to the future, as it would accommodate a 737.  "As the Forest Service changes to new aerial water tankers, they may not be able to land at the Grant County Airport."

Commissioner Ron Hall asked, if the airport were expanded, and the military wanted to come in to the area to train, if the new runway would help that effort. Saari said it would.

Also to be approved or disapproved is an annual agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services for the Integrated Wildlife Damage Management Program for $27,500. Saari said the funding comes from tax money paid by ranchers for their livestock. It has helped when antelope had to be hazed away from the airport and helps with predator damage to livestock.

A resolution to be considered would authorize the execution and delivery of a loan and intercept agreement with the New Mexico Finance Authority for $708,684 to finance the cost of purchasing, constructing and installing a public building at the County Fairgrounds. "One hitch is that Gila Regional Medical Center has to pay back its $10 million bond before May 23, for us to go forward with the agreement."

Editor's Note: After the meeting ended, GRMC Chief Financial Officer Craig Stewart, who had been in the audience, gave the check to Treasurer Steve Armendariz for deposit today.

A resolution adopting the Grant County Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan will be considered.  Public Works Director Justin Reese and Robinson have been working on the issue. Robinson said the first target date for the plan is three months from the adoption of the resolution. "Justin will evaluate all the structures and Earl, all the roads, for compliance with the ADA. Then we will set the game plan for removing the barriers to access. We will prioritize and look at the budget to fix them. There is no federal money tied to this plan, but, if we did nothing, we would be in violation of the ADA and could be reported to the federal attorney general."

Saari said the county facilities are listed in the resolution. "We need to get input, determine the state and accessibility and how much it will cost. We will also consider the programs using the county facilities and determine if we can move them, so we are compliant."

Another issue requiring adoption of a resolution is the Grant County Title VI Program, which impacts the transit authority and Corre Caminos.

"This program is tied to federal funds and we have to adopt it," Robinson said. "Part of it is a limited English proficiency plan and how to limit the situations where limited English is a problem. Occasionally we have a non-English, non-Spanish speaker and we have had to expand our options on how to deal with them. We have to adopt system-wide standards and policies on how we assign busses and amenities and how we are addressing the issues. We are still working out a couple of sections, but I don't think costs will increase much."

Saari said the issue has been difficult, because originally the county was only building the bus terminal, but since the county took over the transit authority, more issues have come up.

A resolution will be approved or disapproved at the regular meeting authorizing a loan and intercept agreement with the NMFA for $245,671 to finance a water tanker for use by the Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire Department. The repayment will be intercepted from the PAVFD's annual fire funds.

Another resolution will approve budget adjustments for this fiscal year. Saari said it includes grants received throughout the year.

The final resolution to be approved is the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2013-14. The discussion will be covered in a subsequent article.

The commissioners will also address indigent and sole community provider claims in the amount of $581,305.02, including 15 out-of-county claims of $44,563.97, which will be paid out of the county indigent gross receipts tax funding. The 1026 claims for $536,741.05 are in limbo until GRMC receives its sole community provider funds from the state.

Subsequent articles will cover the budget and county reports.

Live from Silver City

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