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Commissioners hear county reports, including audit updates

At the Thursday morning Grant County Commission meeting, several county reports were given, including a correction on a candidate radio ad that is running.

Sheriff Raul Villanueva gave the first report, saying his officers had answered 389 calls for service in September. He said the calls had gone down, likely because of the change in the weather and school starting.

"The department is short two people out on medical leave, but my officers are keeping up," Villanueva said.

Commissioner Christy Miller asked if there were any problems at the County Fair.

 


Villanueva said there were a few incidents that he would report to the Fair Board.

Assessor Randy Villa said the 2012 values had been sent to the Treasurer's Office for collection.

"I have two teams in the Mimbres doing re-valuations," Villa said. "Also, I attended the New Mexico Association of Counties board meeting. The members voted to support the solid waste issue, although it is not one of their priorities."

Treasurer Alfred Sedillo said tax bills should go out the end of the month and are also available online.

"We had a conference call with the NMAC and all the treasurers," Sedillo reported. "The meeting was held yesterday, so as soon as I hear the results, I will let you know.

"I gave the paperwork to the attorney, in case, we have to take action on whether or not we can accept monthly payments," he continued. "But right now, we can only accept full payments for delinquent taxes. We have state personnel here for two months on the issue."

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said: "Taking payments is important. I would like to be kept informed."

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said: "We support you."

"Hopefully, it will get resolved," Sedillo said.

Clerk Robert Zamarripa said early voting started quickly, with more than 300 votes cast on Tuesday, and more than 200 on Wednesday. "You can get absentee ballots and can print sample ballots off the www.grantcountynm.com website or call us at 575-574-0042. At the next meeting, I will give a presentation on the voter convenience centers to be used on Election Day. I expect a huge turnout."

County Planner Anthony Gutierrez spoke about two subdivisions, Loma Verde and Viva Santa Rita, which are seeking road improvements and county maintenance.

"I met with (County Manager) Jon (Saari) and Mr. (Lonnie) Sandoval (representing the Loma Verde subdivision)," Gutierrez said. "I will conduct location surveys tomorrow. I want to make sure the roads are within the platted roadway. There is still a question about whether Loma Verde's roads were dedicated to the county. The Viva Santa Rita roads are dedicated.

"We will get started on the assessment districts," Gutierrez said. "The county has to agree. Dori (Dominguez, ordinance officer) found the 1978 version of the subdivision regulations, which I will check."

"Both subdivisions have agreed to the assessment deal, so I think we all agree we want to bring roads up to standards and maintain them," Kasten said.

Saari said Gutierrez will do the preliminary surveys, and if the road is built where it is platted, commissioners will accept the dedication at the Oct. 25 meeting. "All the residents have signed that if the easement is different, it can be moved. Lonnie has also approved giving land for a bus turnaround right before the low-water crossing."

The county received the wrong tax increment form from the state the first time, but has received the correct one, which shows that the 1/8 gross receipts tax increment for Dispatch will continue to 2023.

Saari said he and Miller had met with residents on Duck Creek. They had concerns about the very fine dust on their county-maintained road, which becomes slick when wet. They also asked for signage, including one that says: Do Not Cross When Flooded, at the request of the nearest homeowner whose door gets knocked on for him to pull vehicles out when they get stuck in the creek.

"They also asked for speed limit signs, but that's not what we do," Saari said. "They also asked for Sheriff's patrols, because guys buy beer at the Last Chance Bar and take the road back to town while they are drinking."

The NMAC will hold training for newly elected officials Nov. 28-30. This year, the association wants not only the newly elected, but the county managers and attorneys, so they can explain to their new officials the specifics of each county.

"We will start looking at a redo of the fairgrounds at a meeting tonight," Saari said. "Jim Redford will develop the plan, so we have a plan ready to go to the Legislature for funding."

The county, after discussion with Silver City Mayor James Marshall and Western New Mexico University President Joseph Shepard, has sent letters recommending that Great Lakes Airlines provide two round trips to Phoenix daily.

"We will work with Seaport or Mr. Frost locally to fly people to Santa Fe," Saari said. "It would not violate Essential Air Service, because Santa Fe is not a hub. The flights will be from Phoenix to Silver City to Clovis to Albuquerque and back to Phoenix twice a day. The company wanted to overnight an airplane in Grant County, but we said it would be in everyone's best interest to have it overnight in Phoenix, so if there were a problem, they would have a spare plane. The service should begin around the first of December."

Ramos said he has been called by residents with questions about a radio ad that said commissioners could allow rebates to senior citizens with fund surpluses.

Villa explained that Article 36 regulation allows those 65 or older, with less than $35,000 total income in the household to receive a freeze on property valuation. The freeze must be applied for every year. "We try to help out, by sending an application to those who qualify, so they can reapply. It has nothing to do with taxes. It is strictly valuation."

Ramos said if someone is running for office, he or she should get the facts right.

Villa said all information about exemptions is on the back of the valuations that are sent out each April.

Sedillo said his office also tries to help those who come into his office looking for exemptions.

Ramos said the county wants to hear from the residents of Viva Santa Rita subdivision, not just from a representative, who doesn't even live there or own property there.

Gutierrez said several residents had come into his office, and "they are happy with what we're doing."

Ramos also said the Southwestern County Commissioners Alliance planned at its next meeting to approve a letter of support on the solid waste issue.

Miller commended the Fair Board and the young adults who participated in the fair.

"I would like an update on the audit," she said.

Saari said he had met with the auditor, who needed paperwork for the 2010 audit. It was provided and should be on its way to Santa Fe. He said he would have the 2011 completed in two weeks, and the 2012 by the deadline of Nov. 15.

"We need to get it done," Ramos said.

Kasten said the meeting at the fairgrounds would include committee members Judy O'Loughlin of the Extension Office, Gutierrez, Saari and himself.

"I appreciate the alliance and NMAC supporting us on the solid waste fees," Kasten said. "It's never going to be free, but it will be easier to collect. Fines for dumping illegally will be as high as we can make them.

"It's imperative that everyone take advantage of the right to vote," Kasten said.

The commissioners went into executive session to discuss limited personnel matters, regarding the county manager's goals and performance.

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