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Sustainability Plan among Town Council new business items

This is the continuation of the report on the Nov. 12 Town Council meeting and addresses items of new business.

Under new business, councilors approved a special dispenser permit application for the MImbres Region Arts Council's Black Tie Ball on Dec. 14, from 6 p.m. to midnight at Lawley Toyota, 2750 U.S. 180 East, Silver City. The license holder information is for Snappy Mart #4 owned by W&N Enterprises, 206 N. Hudson, Silver City.

Faye McCalmont, MRAC executive director, asked if there were any questions on the letter and documentation, including the legal paperwork to submit to the state. "There will be one serving area for alcohol and another location for serving food."

Denise Smith of the Silver City Office of Sustainability discussed the Town of Silver City Sustainability Plan 2030, with policy statements, selected efforts and the overall plan in principal, which the council was to adopt.

"This is a result of a seven-month effort of a task force," Smith said. "We were to address the rising heat, increasing winds and fire danger. I acknowledge Nick Sussillo as the main force behind this."

She said the plan indicates the temperature in the area is likely to increase two degrees between 2013 and 2030. The pattern of rainfall is likely to change, with more rain at a time and a decrease in snowpack. She said bark beetle die-off is causing large fires and the monsoon is likely to be delayed.

"The process was to get a 20-person task force, with public employees and community members," Smith said. "We met five times and grouped elements vulnerable to risk."

Sussillo commended Smith for her summary of the plan. "This is an addendum to the town's climate change adaption plan. Protect, conserve and prepare is another way to categorize the plan. The more we talked to Police Chief Ed Reynolds and Fire Chief Rudy Bencomo, we realized protection was more important, with a major focus on water use."

He said for recycling, the goal is to move from the 6 or 7 percent five years ago and from the 22 percent now, to 33 percent by 2017 and 50 percent projected by 2030.

"We enhanced the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the town and ETJ," Sussillo said. "County Commission Chairman Brett Kasten is in concurrence."

Sussillo said, according to Bencomo, 12 high-risk areas for fire have been determined. "We are encouraging more conversation with the police and fire departments thinking outside the box. We have started the conversation. The plan has a number of things addressing preparedness. Maybe 100-200 people out of the 10,000 people in the town have an awareness to prepare sufficiently. The Neighborhood Alliance has received a grant of $8,000 for a spring fire preparedness conference. Our No. 1 priority is outreach to the community."

"I want to speak briefly to lessons learned," Sussillo said. "We know what not to lose sight of—plans we need to keep alive. I know two significant plans are out of date and have had no action taken on them. They are the 2002 Flood Management Plan and the 2008 Hazard Mitigation Plan, which addresses, among other things, weather events. It was done by the county, with participation of the Town Council. I propose bringing it back. We need to keep plans current. I ask the town manager to determine which plans are the most critical and what is being done to keep them alive and current.

"The second thing is funding," he continued. "Keeping the plans current is important for grant applications. If you want to do a new flood management plan, it would require about $75,000 to update it. Implementation would also require funding. We also need to brush up on and enhance our grant-writing capability. This specific plan we ask you to approve tonight will be important. Obama recently signed an executive resolution encouraging community resiliency on climate change. This is our community resiliency plan and only a few communities will be able to put up such a plan for funding.

"We also need a discussion on a fund for match funds to have them readily available," Sussillo said. "There are three things not to lose sight of. It will be hotter and drier. A University of Arizona report said New Mexico is at the epicenter of the drought.  We must protect, preserve and prepare."

Cissy McAndrew, Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber executive director, said her organization supports "this sort of policy, which will benefit us."

Mayor James Marshall said part of an outdated plan recommends the town get an ambulance. "I can tell you the town needs a rescue vehicle and the hospital needs two ambulances as soon as possible." He recommended striking Section B as redundant and moving Section C to B.

The plan was adopted unanimously.

Councilor Cynthia Bettison said she recently had lunch with a visiting professor from Florida Gulf Coast University. "What he does is encourage higher-education institutions to include sustainability in course work. He talked a lot about a project at Oberlin College. We have the same moving parts as Oberlin's plan. With the adoption of this plan, I think it will happen in partnership with Western.

Councilors also approved an amendment to the Town Procurement Code.

"Because the town was created under a charter, we have the authority to create our own procurement code," Town Manager Alex Brown said.

Two sections were amended. The limit above which the town is required to go out to bid has been increased from $25,000 to $60,000. For small purchases of $5,000 or less the town has a limit of $2,000. "We want to move that limit down to $1,000 to restrict it even more."

Nancy Gordon, working on the Waterworks building restoration, applauded the change. "We had to go out to bid for a new roof. It took almost a year to finish a 60-day contract. We were fighting the low bidder the whole time on his specs for the $50,000 contract. We are very supportive of this change."

Councilor Mike Morones clarified the change does not trump the budget, to which Brown said the amendment was a change in process only.  "What about four contracts for $50,000 each? Morones asked. "That is in direct violation of the code," Brown replied.

Town Clerk Ann Mackie said there were no items "right now" on the agenda for Nov. 26. "I recommend cancelling the meeting." The next Town Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10.


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