During the rest of the Grant County Commission regular session business meeting on Thursday, June 13, commissioners approved the expenditure report of $780,152.41, dated June 11, 2013.

Commissioners also heard a cash flow report dated April 30, 2013. At the end of the fiscal year, June 30, the county expects to have $2,913,693, subtracting the required three-twelfths reserve of $2,807,123, leaving a surplus of $106,570.  The Road Fund will end the fiscal year with $677,048, minus the one-twelfth reserve of $130,935, which will leave a surplus of $546,113. The Road Superintendent Earl Moore has said the county will receive less state funding next year. The Corrections fund is anticipated to have a cash balance on June 30 of $45,281. The fund has no required reserve.

The next item of business was to appoint three members to the Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees. Robert "Bobby" Morales was named to a one-year term; Freddie Rodriguez to a three-year term, and Dr. Donald J. Stinar to a three-year term as the physician appointment.

Commissioner Ron Hall asked that the vote be broken down by terms and positions, because he thought Ed Wilmot had the experience to be a good board member. Commissioner Gabriel Ramos protested the move, because he said Morales "was the only board member who came to the commission to tell us about the hospital disaster." Because the votes were not broken out by position, Hall voted nay to the combination motion.

The Commission approved the intergovernmental transfer of ambulances owned by the county, but used by GRMC, to GRMC ownership with no money exchanged.

The next item of business addressed the appointment of a new assessor.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari said, by state statute, when an elected official vacates his position, it is the responsibility of the County Commission to appoint the replacement. "Randy Villa will serve until his replacement is sworn in, which will be at 5 p.m. this (Thursday) afternoon." Villa has accepted the county position as General Services Officer/Fire Management Officer.

Mary Guthrie, deputy assessor, was appointed to the position.

"I want to thank the people of Grant County for their support during my 6 and a half years as your assessor," Villa said. "You will be in good hands. I look forward to the challenges of my new position. As I have done as assessor, I will do so with honesty and integrity."

Ramos said Villa had always put the public first. Hall said Villa had served the public well and would take his experience to his new position. Kasten noted that Villa had a fire waiting for him.

"I know being assessor comes with responsibility that I can't do by myself," Guthrie said. "The office has a dedicated staff. I will miss Randy. He is an honest, good man. Thank you very much," she said to Randy.

Hall said it was always good to see an employee come through the ranks. Guthrie said she has been with the county 29 years.

Kasten was appointed to fill the unexpired term on the New Mexico Association of Counties board vacated by Villa.

Ramos at the work session had requested a letter be sent to the state auditor requesting a full audit of GRMC. Saari said he had spoken with the auditor and the procedure had changed. People can report what they think are violations through a website link. The state auditor's office will review the allegations and determine whether an audit is required. County Attorney Abigail Robinson said the intent of the motion was the same, so commissioners approved the request. Hall noted there had been a recent audit of GRMC. Saari said because public entities have so many transactions, the auditor will pull random samples, and if something is found, it will go "deeper."

Commissioners approved:
• An amendment to the animal control contract with the High Desert Humane Society, with the only change that of the date;
• A professional services contract with The Recovery Management Center to provide services for the Grant County DWI program, not to exceed $25,000;
• A resolution amending the Open Meetings Resolution to reflect the changes made by the Legislature, requiring prior notice of a meeting to 72 hours;
• Revisions to the Vehicle Accident Prevention Policy;
• A notice of intent to consider an ordinance requiring a movement certificate and tax release prior to moving a manufactured home within Grant County. Treasurer Steve Armendariz said he has provided a copy of the ordinance to the New Mexico counties who do not have such an ordinance, and he will bring it up as a topic at the Treasurer's Affiliate meeting of next week's New Mexico Association of Counties June Conference;
• A resolution adopting a Grant County return to work and modified duty policy. Employees will be assessed and possibly assigned work on a case-by-case basis; and
• A resolution authorizing the DWI program to establish a probationary fee to provide supervised misdemeanor compliance monitoring and tracking.

Another resolution, which was approved, establishes a special election, regarding the imposition of a county capital outlay gross receipts tax of 0.25 percent. Perry Bendicksen, financial counsel for the county, said the tax would not go into effect until it is approved by the voters in a mail-in election on Aug. 19.  If approved, the tax will go into effect Jan. 1.

Ramos emphasized that it is not a property tax, but is a tax on goods and services, much of which will be paid by visitors to the county.

Kasten noted that the good things about the tax should be published and promoted. He thanked the local publications for their support of the efforts. He said the county has been working with Silver City and Western New Mexico University on the issue for about a year. "I thank Mayor (James) Marshall and President (Joseph) Shepard."

Saari said that even if the tax were passed, the county would still be one of the lowest-taxed in the state. "This is us stepping up and taking care of ourselves."

A request for proposal for engineering, environmental, archaeological and surveying services received seven respondents, with some responding to more than one of the services. Saari recommended approving the awards to all seven respondents to give the county a well-rounded group at the best costs for the county. Kasten said the Planning Department could pick and choose which ones to put to work on projects.

County Planner Anthony Gutierrez thanked commissioners and officials for their support after his father's passing. "It means a lot to have a caring community and caring local government."

He recently returned from an economic development conference in Ann Arbor, Mich. Gutierrez said most of the speakers came from the Michigan area. "It was amazing to see how a community makes a difference. I came back with methodology I haven't heard of before. We need to take another look at keeping our children and students here. They spoke about how to support entrepreneurs and how to develop entrepreneurship in youths. A community took an abandoned building, put in high-speed Internet, and 22 successful multi-million dollar business came out of it – all by college kids."

Gutierrez said he would make sure the Food Policy heard some of the recommendations. "Most say it takes five to seven years to see results, but one young guy in a T-shirt and jeans just sold his third business in three years for $22 million."

Saari said county officials would be attending training sessions at the NMAC conference. "We will all discuss fires and partnerships with the Forest Service." He noted that the Forest Service is changing the way it is putting out information for tourism, and pointing out what is open, as well as what is closed in the forest.

Hall said he realizes the public's fear when the town is covered with smoke, but "I like when the public sees government working for their safety. I'm excited about our new man on board, Randy Villa. I pray for you guys every day on the fire," he said to the Forest Service personnel at the meeting.

Ramos noted that the commission intended to put recognition for the Cobre Baseball and Silver Softball champions on the agenda, but requested it be put on the next meeting. "Gabe (Holguin) said the Forest Service can't get people on the fires because there are no roads. This is another big reason to keep the roads open."

Kasten said he appreciated the Forest Service taking the fire on as full suppression. "I also want to say thanks to Randy and welcome to Mary."

Villa said the goal of the assessor's office has always been to serve the public with honesty and integrity. "I understand the Forest Service presentation. The public needs to know it is dry out there. Be careful when welding or doing anything that creates a spark. I will work as hard as I can with the Forest Service and the volunteer fire departments. I'm anxious to get started."

Live from Silver City

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