Commissioners present Buy Local, Think Local, Invest Local Month proclamation. From left are Commissioner Gabriel Ramos, Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce board member Lynda Aiman-Smith, Commission Chairman Brett Kasten, Green Chamber Executive Director Cissy McAndrew, and Commissioner Ron Hall.

The Grant County commissioners addressed the agenda and heard reports at a regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10.

In the financial report, County Manager Jon Paul Saari explained that expenditures of $1,663,450.60 for the past month included payrolls, but no extraordinary expenses.  "We have completed the front of the building except for the paving right in front. The fair building is complete except for the new construction that will begin in January. The last payment for the Conference Center has been paid, while we go forward trying to get money for the inside."

Saari also gave a cash flow analysis showing the cash balance of the General Fund, as of July 1, 2013, at the beginning of the fiscal year, of $2,451,424, and a total as of Oct. 31 of $1,331,729, with 17.1 percent of expected revenues having been received as of that date.

The projected cash balance at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2014 is $2,364,742, minus the required minimum balance of $2,105,342, leaving a surplus of $259,400.

The Road Fund had a balance of $267,657 at the beginning of the fiscal year, with projections through June 30, 2014 leaving a cash balance of $136,773, minus the required minimum cash reserve of $130,935, and a surplus of $5,838.

The Corrections Fund had a cash balance of $407 on July 1, 2013, and is expected to have a balance of $32,723 at the end of the fiscal year. It is not required to keep a required cash reserve, as much of its funding comes through transfers from the General Fund, which are done in January and again in June to cover where revenues are not sufficient.

A long list of inventory deletions, including small things, such as wrist rests, chairs, and printers that have been destroyed or are no longer useful, was approved at the request of the auditors to track even minor items.

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked if the items stolen from the Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire Department Cottage San Station were included.

"When the insurance is settled, we will delete them from the inventory," Saari said.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos asked about vehicles.

"If they are useful, we transfer them to another department," Saari said. "Otherwise, we put them up for a closed auction bid."

Commissioners approved and presented a proclamation for Think Local, Buy Local, Invest Local Month at the request of the Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce to Cissy McAndrew, executive director and Lynda Aiman-Smith, board member.

McAndrew reported that Small Business Saturday went very well on Nov. 30. "Business owners are excited about it. All through 2014, we will have a monthly contest for downtown shopping stories. We want to keep more gross receipts taxes at home."

Commissioners also approved an application from the Gila Valley Emergency Medical Services for funding of $19,800 from the EMS Fund Act. The county is fiscal agent for the service.

A Gila Regional Medical Center trustee position expires at the end of December. To bring all appointments into alignment, this appointment will run from January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016. Five applications were received for the position from Charles L. Kelly, Gary W. Stailey, Edwin L. Wilmot, William Charland and Steve May.

"It's nice to have a large group of applicants," Kasten noted.

Commissioner Ron Hall moved to appoint Kelly and Ramos seconded the motion.

"We welcome the well qualified applicants, but I feel we should keep the gentleman with the experience," Ramos said. Hall concurred and said Kelly has the experience and expertise, but he also thanked those who stepped forward. Ramos asked them to put their names in again for appointments in the near future.

Saari presented budget adjustments to include grants received. "An adjustment in the Sheriff's Department budget includes $135,000. Originally it was slated for overtime, but the sheriff would like it separated out into a new line item so he can track the expenditure, with some for overtime and some for equipment."

The commissioners recessed and convened as the Grant County Health Plan Claims Board to approve 761 claims for $576,174.45.

Saari explained that as the process goes forward, things would change. "The Human Services Department has put out a spreadsheet of what they think will be reimbursed. The department, after HSD takes administrative fees, wants to intercept a 1/8 gross receipts tax and give it to managed-care organizations. There were four managed-care groups—Presbyterian, Blue Cross, United and Lovelace—but Blue Cross bought Lovelace and we don't know if another will be added. The concern brought up to HSD is that it has no control over managed care, which also will take administrative fees. GRMC stands to receive about $2 million, but the managed care groups could deny claims."

He left Tuesday afternoon to attend the Wednesday Legislative Finance Committee meeting, where HSD was to present. "We want to keep the state hospitals whole. Bernalillo County has already said it will not participate in the program."

"We have one more sole community provider quarterly payment in December," Saari said. "The New Mexico Association of Counties is trying to decide whether to be for or against the taking of the GRT percentage. We could lose the federal match by not participating."

"There are winners and losers," Kasten said. "Each is fighting to go one way or the other."

"The first thing we need to do is remove the administrative fees," Saari said. "We want as much to come back as possible.

In county reports, Sheriff Raul Villanueva said it has been "pretty quiet, but we are preparing for the Christmas holiday. We encourage the public to be observant when shopping, and we ask the public to report any suspicious activity."

He also a scam has been reported. "People are receiving calls that they won an amount of money, gift card or even an automobile," Villanueva said. "Do not give out any personal information and notify us of it."

Hall asked if it were recommended that people put items in their trunk.

"Absolutely," Villanueva replied. "And if they are putting it in an SUV, they should at least cover items with a blanket."

Ramos said he received a call that he had won $1 million. "I recognized it as a scam, so I played along. The person gave me a 1-800 number to call, so I called it and said I verified the call. The person wanted me to get a gift card at Walmart and give the information off the card. I went through the process to find out what was required. They were asking for the purchase of a gift card or money order. I will give you the details," he said to the sheriff.

Hall thanked a citizen for brining up an issue and Assessor Mary Guthrie's office for going above and beyond with information for the citizen.

Brian Cunningham, GRMC Interim chief executive officer, said the board of trustees and the hospital have been discussing a contract with a dual-certified anesthesiologist and pain-management physician to provide an interventional pain management program for the hospital. "We are hoping to bring it to the board at the January meeting."

"We are 90 percent complete with our transition at 120 days," Cunningham said. "Our plan is in place. For the past three months in a row, we have had positive bottom lines. We are slowing the drawdown of cash and at present have 98 days of cash. Coding issues continue, but, as of a few weeks ago, we were $20 million in arrears. With contract coders working, we are now at $15 million and going down. We hope to get it to a more normal $3-5 million. Everything takes daily diligence.

"We are preparing for the legislative session, especially the GRT intercept issue and the sole community provider funding," he continued.

"Will the last sole community provider payment help?" Saari asked.

"It will jump us up over 100 days of cash," Cunningham said. "The big unknown is how many people will be in the health exchanges."

Saari, in his report, said the drawings for the fair building to include restrooms, a small office for a sheriff's substation, storage and a commercial kitchen were complete. "We hope when it is finished to be able to rent it more often."

"In January, when we go up for the session, we plan to meet with the New Mexico Finance Authority," Saari said. "Santa Rita Volunteer Fire Department wants to build a new station across from the Hanover Outpost. Tyrone wants to build onto its station. Kevin Robinson, our architect, will be there with me.

"We also have a planning grant on the extension of the water line from old Fort Bayard to the new Fort Bayard Medical Center. We will turn the plans over to the state."

At the Jan. 9, 2014 commission regular meeting, Saari said he might have more information. "The session begins Jan. 21, and there are a lot of issues on the table. On the hospital issue, we don't want to lose the $150 million that comes into the state from the federal government."

He commended county employees for doing two or three jobs, with no bonuses, because of anti-donation laws. "All you can do is continue to work and all we can do is tell you you are doing excellent jobs."

As of Jan. 1, county employees insurance will change over to Presbyterian.

Ramos said because most employees are choosing the HMO option, it will save the county another $20,000.

"And the state told us rates would increase July 1 in the state pool, so that is more savings," Saari said.

At the Jan. 7 work session, The Nature Conservancy and the National Forest Industries will give a presentation. "They have come to the same side of forest restoration instead of just watching the forests burn. We will invite other counties' commissioners to come and hear the presentation," Saari said.

Ramos said he was glad to see "our actions causing reactions. I hope it continues. The Eco-Watershed group met a week and a half ago. We really think alike on thinning and proper vegetation for animals and people."

He asked Saari to make sure the Transit Authority looks at a Corre Caminos route to Cliff. Saari confirmed it would be on the agenda for the Dec. 18 meeting.

Ramos also noted the great representation from both high school football teams. "Silver High School was runner-up and Cobre High School did its best in years."

Hall said he, too, was proud of the youths and the student athletes. He lauded the proposed improvements to the fair building so it is utilized to its fullest. "We are doing program analysis on the continuum of care, breaking down what we have, what we want and what we need to do."

"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year," Hall concluded.

Kasten said a lot of people put lights up for the holidays. "Please be careful. We don't want to see any fires."

He said he attended the Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department event to present awards to the peer-given best firefighter, Roger Grove, and the best EMS provider, Don Holliday.

"Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays," Kasten said.

The next work session will take place Jan. 7, with the regular session on Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. at the Grant County Administration Center.

Live from Silver City

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