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Grant County Commission ends with county reports, after completing agenda items

Editor's Note: This is part 3 and the final part of the Grant County Commission regular meeting held Feb. 27, 2014.

Commissioners continued with the agenda. The next item of business was to approve the grant/distribution funding application for the local DWI Grant Program Division with the Department of Finance and Administration. This was the first of several items addressing the DWI program.
 
Cindy McClean, DWI Program director, said the agency is supervising 160 people, with 29 being seen regularly. "Most are DWI offenders. We're paying for a lot to get treatment."
 
Commissioner Ron Hall asked if recidivism was up or down.
 
"A handful are high risk that we can't treat here," McClean said. "They need a year-long treatment. Crashes and injuries are down. Corre Cantinas is helping a lot. Most of those using the service are coming, not from bars, but from other folks' houses."
 
Also approved for the DWI Program was an amendment to the county agreement for the DWI grant agreement. In addition an agreement between the DWI Program and the New Mexico Department of Health for the Assurances and Cooperative agreement was approved, as well as a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Finance. Commissioners, which authorized the county to submit an application to DFA Local Government Division to participate in the local DWI grant and distribution program.
 
Commissioners approved an amendment to reclassify funds for the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging for a direct purchase of services vendor agreement, giving and extra $10,000 to Senior Services for meals at the Senior Centers. 
 
They also approved a modification of a grant agreement for the USDA Forest Service to be cross-commissioned with the Sheriff's Office to provide patrols in the forest.
 
Under resolutions, commissioners approved an application to the Colonias Infrastructure Fund for improvements to Rosedale Road. 
 
The county approved a resolution to accept roads for maintenance in the Wind Canyon II Subdivision, phases 3 and 4.
 
Commissioners authorized a governmental equipment lease-purchase agreement with Caterpillar Financial Services Corp. for a Road Department loader.
 
A bid was approved to bring up to county standards Miners Legend and Kneeling Nun roads in the Viva Santa Rita Subdivision. The county will do the roadwork. "I stood in opposition to this at the work session, because I did not know this was usually the way the county did roads," Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said. "I have changed my mind." The county will give residents the schedule and if they want it done more quickly, the county will give an additional estimate if contract labor is required.
 
The commission also approved a bid for a fire pump and integrated foam tank to supply the Lower Mimbres Volunteer Fire Department.
 
As the Grant County Health Plan Claims Board, commissioners approved 1,045 claims for $560,283.47.
 
Saari explained that the sole community provider funding came to an end at the end of December. "It's now the safety net health care pool. Although 1,016 of these claims for $427,492.02 are uncompensated, we are still sending them to the state. The state will determine how much to compensate to the hospital next year. Senate Bill 268 gets rid of this claims board, so it may be one of the last times we report to the commissioners. The report will go to the state, and we will record the report."
 
"This just bolsters my argument that this should be a state program and not funded by the county," Kasten said. 
 
"The remaining 29 claims for $132,791.45 the county pays out of the indigent fund, if we have the funding. We pay when we have funding, which is based on a gross receipts tax percentage. As the Affordable Care Act goes forward, then the claims should drop because the state will be picking up more of those without insurance. But with less money, counties may be paying more.  The hospital should receive some compensation starting July 1, perhaps $2.5 million to $3 million for the January to June period. The money will come from the new program that began Jan. 1. The state may come to the hospitals or counties for a match, but I was told the state will be pulling from the General Fund.
 
"As soon as the government signs SB268, since it has an emergency clause, we may have to pay our 1/12th of 1 percent GRT," he said.
 
In county reports, Sheriff Raul Villanueva apologized for not being at the work session, as he was in training. "The department has been fairly busy the past two months. We are working together as a team."
 
Treasurer Steve Armendariz said the Solid Waste Department was working on a new list to add new liens on properties that are delinquent more than $100.
 
Clerk Robert Zamarripa said Tuesday, March 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. those wishing to run for commission districts 1 and 2, assessor, sheriff and magistrate judges districts one and two must register for the primary.
 
Saari said a new policy was required for the use of Bataan Park to be more in line with other policies for recreational areas.
 
Commissioner Gabriel Ramos of the Parks and Recreation Committee said he would call a meeting to look at the policy for the park and the Senior Centers.
 
Saari said the county should start thinking about a fire ordinance. "We need a permanent one that we can turn off and on by resolution or allow the fire management officer to have the authority." 
 
Kasten asked if an all-encompassing emergency ordinance would work, with an official having the authority.
 
"Yes, but I would recommend a resolution as the way to start and end the time for the ordinance," Attorney Abigail Robinson said. "With fireworks, state statute limits us."
 
Hall agreed that something more workable was needed. 
 
Ramos asked what needed to be done to improve the ISO ratings for the volunteer fire departments, so residents could benefit from lower insurance costs.
 
Saari said the state Fire Department schedules inspections. "It has to do with equipment and water sources. An improved ISO benefits the stations and the residents."
 
Ramos said the Eco-Watershed Committee wants to clean up tire bundles, which, if they catch fire, are hard to extinguish.
 
"That goes along with the junk trailers," Saari said. "The ordinances don't put a lot into the hands of judges."
 
Hall pointed out that some are professional hoarders.
 
"Property clean up is an issue," Saari said. "At the next commission meeting, we will have a presentation on tire-derived fuel, which might help the situation."
 
"Where are we on the land transfer with Freeport for a new fire station in Hanover?" Kasten asked. Saari said it was progressing.
 
Hall asked about the Cliff-Gila Fairgrounds exhibit building, to which Saari said the project was out for bid, because Silver Schools had agreed to a lot line change, as the building would also benefit the school.
 
Ramos congratulated Silver High wrestling team, which came in fourth at state and Cobre High School, which came in second at state. In addition, Cobre had two state champions and Silver, one. "I ask for a proclamation."
 
He also said the Corre Caminos director should be in the facility every day. "We do not want the facility unmanned. I want to see her here every day of the week. I want to avoid liability. We also need to make sure there is an assistant in the Luna County office every day. Grant County is over the district and we need to take control over it."
 
"Under General Services, has there been discussion to run buses in Luna County?" Kasten asked. "Are they paying for it?"
 
Saari said Luna had not been paying because Luna County said it had not been reimbursed for $40,000. "But they owe us over $100,000. We should have sent a new bill showing the credit. Grant County wanted to change the agreement. Deming and Luna County put in $60,000 each and Grant County and Silver City are putting in $30,000 each. We said if it were justified, we would divide the overrun from the previous year."
 
"While we're talking about sports," Saari said. "Some kids don't do sports. The Silver High Science Olympiad, for the first time was in the top 10 teams, receiving 8th at the state competition."
 
Ramos talked about the Arizona Water Settlements Act. "We are all about conserving, but we need the infrastructure to make sure we have water in the area for our children and grandchildren. Our big neighbor, Doña Ana County, is chomping at the bit to get the water. We need to fight for the infrastructure to keep our water."
 
Saari said his administrative assistant, Denisha Lucero's son, won a state wrestling championship.
 
Hall said he is continuing to work on the continuum of care. "We are putting together a business plan for a first class detox facility." He said he is also working on bus service for Cliff and Gila. "I went to the Greater Wind Canyon fire meeting. There was a lot of good information. The area is doing an excellent job. Don't forget the Symposium on Preparedness March 7 and 8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I highly recommend it. Government cannot do everything for you. You need to take the responsibility for protecting yourself."
 
He thanked Chairman Kasten and Manager Saari for spending an extensive amount of time in Santa Fe for the legislative session. "I think Grant County was represented well."
 
"I urge citizens to call the governor's office and ask her to sign without a line item veto SB 268 or it will cost our hospital about $1.5 million," Kasten said. "Five to eight rural hospitals could disappear. That would be 30 percent of the state's hospitals. Ask her to sign it in its entirety."
 
The meeting was adjourned.

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