By Mary Alice Murphy
As part of the combined work session and regular meeting on Feb. 14, 2017, Grant County commissioners heard from department directors and elected officials.
Detention Center Administrator Mike Carillo was the first to give his report. He reported the jail has three staff vacancies. The population includes four that are being held for Hidalgo County.
Road Superintendent Earl Moore said installation of a sewer line had begun and his department would fix the road when it was complete. The Rosedale Road project is suspended for a time, because water is running where personnel need to install a culvert. "It should take about a week when we can get in. We've done patching, but with recent rains and snow, we are back to square one. We ask everyone to be patient."
General Services Director Randy Villa said in Public Works, staff is working on all the buildings patching leaks. "When we have good weather, we will fix them."
At the airport, he said the county is trying to find a manager. "Plus we need better internet service for the manager out there."
In the Senior Program, the county purchased three new vans. "With the inventory we have, we have too many sitting there. By March 1, all senior program food handlers will have to have food handler certification. We have 11 certified already."
"We had two fires in the Mimbres," Villa said. "One with a fatality is still under investigation. The other one near San Lorenzo School, they got on fast. Volunteer firefighters are undergoing training. And next month, we will have Gabe Holguin from the Gila National Forest give the fire forecast."
Corre Caminos has a new bus stop in front of the city swimming pool. "We are working with local businesses to help fund more stops. We are looking at one at La Capilla."
A water tap is available at the road in front of the Shooting Range, but "the county will have to get service to the facility."
Planner and Economic Developer Michael "Mischa" Larisch said AAA Solar would make a site visit to Grant County. "He has requested meter sites from PNM, but hasn't received them. We will ask PNM for them and then we will be ready to go out to bid."
He said Tu Casa construction should begin soon.
"LS Mesa wall and trusses are on the substation, with the inspector having approved them, but we have had weather delays," Larisch said. "For the Santa Rita fire station, we will to wait to rebid.
"We are in the final planning for phase 2 of the North Hurley project," he said. "We need to get going because the grant funding runs out in April."
Larisch asked the commissioners and other county staff to continue to have people fill out the survey on the comprehensive land use plan, which will address land use, housing, infrastructure, transportation and other issues.
"It is on the county website for another four to five weeks and then we will compile the data," Larisch said.
District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne thanked him for putting the survey out. "I like the open-ended nature of the questions. I would like to see the purpose of the survey put on the Survey Monkey site."
Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked how the county is assured that the replies are from Grant County residents.
"The first question asks where you live," Larisch said. "Bohannon-Huston has a lot more information on where the answers are coming from. We will double check where they are coming from."
Kasten asked how the county would know that people were not processing the survey on multiple devices.
"I tried it," Larisch said. "It wouldn't let me do it again."
County Manager Charlene Webb said the New Mexico Association of Counties has been sending out its priorities. "I have 63 bills on my tracking list." She also said the county is actively working on its website, with a March 15 deadline. "Department heads, please give Angela Castillo the information you want posted. Thanks to the clerk, we have Novus agenda software, which will automate the agenda. I thank her for it. We will have a six-to-eight-week implementation period. The tablets are on order. We will test out the electronic agenda in March rather than the 'books' we've been giving you. The software also lets us livestream the meetings."
Elected officials began their reports. Under Sheriff Kevin Flamm gave the department report. "In January, we had 509 calls for service, which created 126 reports. We answered to six collisions. We had a lot of transports and a lot of writs and paper service in the civil division. We thank the citizens for feeding us information on suspicious activity, so we can follow up."
Assessor Raul Turrieta said the rendition period ends at the end of February. "April 1, we will send out notices of valuation. We will hire temporary positions for the reappraisal plan. I want that on the March agenda. We are having major issues with the Motor Vehicle Division sending people to us to get site addresses. I will talk more about it later." He said he spoke in Santa Fe about the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency and Tax Increment Financing. He also met with the governor for ½ hour. "The state needs a director for the Property Tax Division."
Treasurer Steve Armendariz thanked everyone for their support and prayers for his family. "We are not out of the woods yet, but I thank my staff who stepped up in times of need. I have submitted the corrected January report with minor adjustments. The February report has been slower with only $68,000 so far." He said the Tax and Revenue Department is still in his office, but has given no sign for when there will be a tax sale.
"I do encourage anyone who is delinquent on their taxes to come in to the office," Armendariz said. "Properties are being red tagged. The legislative session is taking up time in the Santa Fe office. Delinquent property taxes fund a large portion of Tax and Rev. I wish I had had time at the Legislature to tell them how unfair it is to use county funds to fund the Tax and Revenue Department. We are at 61.64 percent collection rate so far. We will get into tax season again in April and May."
District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards noted it was a huge difference between collections of $409,000 in January and $68,000 in February.
"The $409,000 was for December and January," Armendariz said. "The $68,000 is only from Jan. 12 to Feb. 13."
Browne noted that first half taxes must be paid by Dec. 10, which could account for the difference.
Edwards asked if the 61.64 percent rate of collection was average.
"We are a little bit ahead this year," Armendariz said. "More people have paid in full. But it will bounce back up in April and May. We usually end up with about a 96 percent collection rate."
Clerk Marissa Castrillo said she didn't have much to report.
Edwards in her report acknowledged and understood the urgency of the compensation package. "I would be willing to do a special meeting not to have to wait to March. I also want to announce on February 28 from 5-7 p.m., I will hold a District 3 constituents meeting at the Extension office. Bring your concerns."
District 1 Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said he went to the CAP Entity meeting, where he heard presentations on a website, as well as a presentation by Norm Gaume on potential yield from a diversion. "They also talked about an RFP for engineering services."
He said he attended the NMAC meetings. "The biggest topic was the removal of fire funds, DWI funding and from schools. The whole delegation was receptive to what they heard. I attended Grant County Day, where we had meetings with our delegation and with cabinet secretaries. The Department of Health was suggesting Yucca Lodge may transfer to Roswell. We definitely don't want to lose it. We met with General Services Secretary Ed Burckle and the Historic Preservation Division and Santa Clara to discuss Fort Bayard. Burckle did not support Santa Clara receiving Fort Bayard. Unfortunately the Forest Service was not there. Tracy Weber said the Forest Services will move services there."
Ramos reported Villa and Larisch were at the Deputy Fire Marshal's office. "They know where to go to get things done. I appreciate them representing us. I'm heading to Santa Fe again tomorrow."
District 4 Commissioner Billy Billings had no report.
Browne thanked Ramos for the update on the CAP Entity. "I have a couple of highlights. I was there, too. The RFP for 30 percent design engineering is because the current engineers may have violated procurement by making a donation to the Susana PAC while they were under consideration for a contract. Apparently The Nature Conservancy land may be off the table for a diversion. Dropped from the agenda was an expansion of the joint powers agreement. If the money currently can be used for water projects, some funding can be accessed. I was discouraged by the chairman describing climate change as political."
"I was pleased to see Sen. Morales co-sponsor SB340," Browne continued. "It would require more accountability on expenditures by going through the normal budgeting process. It would require the Interstate Stream Commission and the Bureau of Business Economic Research to prove that money was not going into a money sink."
Browne also said he thought it was inappropriate for the GRMC board to choose who should represent the county on the GRMC CEO search committee.
Kasten brought up the date Feb. 28 for a special meeting at 9 a.m. to decide on a representative and on the salary compensation issue. He said he would like to appoint Billings to the GRMC search committee. The commissioners agreed that morning would work for a special meeting.
The commissioners then went into executive session from which they would adjourn after taking no action.