A fire ordinance and a safety net care pool resolution will be approved on Thursday

By Mary Alice Murphy

The Grant County Commission, at its Tuesday, May 6, 2014, work session, reviewed a fire ordinance and a safety net care pool resolution.

At the regular meeting to be held Thursday, May 8, at 9 a.m., commissioners will, as their first order of business hold a public hearing on the adoption of an ordinance "establishing firefighting and emergency response authority, fire equipment procurement standards, and rules regarding fire hazards applicable to the general public, and imposition of burn restrictions during severe drought and other fire emergencies." The commissioners will then approve or disapprove the ordinance.

County Attorney Abigail Robinson, said a minor change had been made in language, thanks to a suggestion from a resident. In Section 3 A, the word combustible had been changed to flammable.

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked how the ordinance would be enforced, when someone finds a fire hazard. "Will (Fire Management Officer) Randy (Villa) go to see the site?"

County Manager Jon Paul Saari said if someone calls and reports a fire hazard, Gilbert Helton, county code enforcement, usually enforces it. But in this ordinance, it will be enforced by Villa and the Sheriff's Department.

"I see the penalty is $300 and up to 90 days in jail," Kasten said.

Commissioner Ron Hall said the Magistrate Court would receive the guilty or not guilty plea, if charges were made.

"When we get a complaint, we will investigate it and we will give them the opportunity to clean it up," Sheriff Raul Villanueva said. "If they don't comply within a time frame, we will cite them and send them to Magistrate Court."

"What if they do not clean it up?" Kasten asked.

"We cite them again," Villanueva said.

Saari said, under the solid waste ordinance, Helton can order it cleaned up and the people will have to reimburse the county.

Hall noted that a separate ordinance, from this one to be considered on Thursday, deals with this issue and gives the steps, allowing so many days to clean it up and if they don't, the county cleans it up and bills the property owner.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said he thought the county needs a follow-up ordinance with steps to continue with yards and properties.

Robinson noted the ordinance, when approved, would repeal the emergency ordinance approved a couple of weeks ago. She said the fire management officer would, upon approval of the ordinance, immediately post the fire restrictions.

Kasten asked what would happen after the second or more violations, and Robinson suggested talking to the magistrate judges, "but I think the ordinance is already flexible."

He also asked about the difference between a chainsaw with no spark arrestor and other mechanical tools without spark arrestors.

Robinson said the FMO had the flexibility to approve or not approve a certain device.

"We are in a severe drought," Villa pointed out. "In the future, we'll look at what works. We do have an application for permits. Contractors are coming in to get the permits."

Saari pointed out that the ordinance says "'anything deemed a hazard,' so we don't have to list everything."

Kasten said the ordinance is for liability purposes.

Robinson said the ordinance is just a guide.

"From a fire management standpoint, the volunteer fire departments monitor within their own districts," Villa said.

The expenditure report for the past two weeks was for $750,969, which Saari called "normal expenditures," as the county tries to finish out grants before the end of the fiscal year.

Also on Thursday's regular meeting agenda is a resolution of intent to adopt an ordinance dedicating, in quarterly installments, an amount equal to a gross receipts tax of one-twelfth of 1 percent applied to the taxable gross receipts reported during the prior fiscal year by persons engaged in business in the county to the newly created safety net care pool fund; and providing an effective date transferring funds.

Saari said the amount would be about $480,000 from the county to the state. "The best estimate of what the hospital will get is $5 million annually. There is no threat of the hospital closing its doors. Our payments will go out in March, June, September and December, so our first payment will be in September, after the beginning of the new fiscal year."

In new business, the commissioners will recognize the state champions, Cobre High School Band.

Two items will be added to Thursday's agenda. The first will be approval of two items for the Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department—the purchase of a tanker truck at a cost of $162,738 from station fire funds for the Flying A station and the transfer of a brush truck, with 38,000 miles on it, from the Columbus Fire Department to the Tyrone VFD.

The second item is part of the Senior Service Program, which must now adopt a policy and procedures specifically for the program.

Robinson said she needed to discuss a couple of things with the program's director, Terry Trujillo, but most of the document is fine.

The next article will cover county reports.


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