The Grant County Commission met in regular session Thursday morning. Issues discussed at the work session on Tuesday were approved.
During public input, Marshall Moore, county resident, said in the past few years, his property valuation has gone down, but his taxes have gone up "by hundreds of dollars."
He said he resented the 8 percent raise given to elected officials, while seeing Sheriff's Department vehicles parked because of the price of fuel.
"I'm seeing a discrepancy between government and business services," Moore said. "We don't mind paying for services, but just raising salaries is another issue."
James Baldwin, District 3 county resident, said he was "very pleased with the voter guide" he received, because the county is not in for any money from the bonding, but "for Rio Arriba County we will be paying more than $15 per person on bonds, so we are supporting that county."
"I don't want to see an pork barrel here, and that includes the façade on the County Business and Conference Center," Baldwin continued. "I'm glad the county is living within its fiscal means."
The first item on the regular meeting agenda was approval of the past two weeks expenditure report, as of Oct. 22, for $348,935.20.
Commissioners approved adding three members to the Food Policy Council—Sunny McFarren, Ken Barr and John Song. County Manager Jon Paul Saari said the additions would help the council meet quorums at its meetings. The council is also working on its bylaws.
Baldwin asked how much authority the council would have over food dispensers.
"No authority," Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said. "They make suggestions."
Saari said the group also helps people get grants to help local growers reach sustainability.
An intergovernmental transfer of an industrial washing machine, for which the county no longer has any use, was approved to give the item to the village of Santa Clara for use in its Police Department.
A sub-grant agreement with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management was approved for $50,665 to County Emergency Management. With the funding, $24,000 will be used for mobile radios to bring entities in the county into compliance with new narrow-band standards. For training in response support, $6,665 will be expended, leaving $20,000 for a radio cache that the Emergency Management Officer Gilbert Helton can pass out in case of disaster.
An employment agreement with Abigail Robinson to return as the county attorney was approved, with the addition of an expanded termination clause, so that severance is not given if the employee is terminated for cause. The language will be added to all future employment agreements.
Assessor Randy Villa asked if the contract was public record, and if she had received an increase in pay or benefits.
"It is public record, and there has been no increase in pay or benefits since her last contract," Kasten said.
Saari said the next step is to send it to Robinson for her signature.
Two memoranda of agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation were approved for Corre Caminos, in the amount of $58,650 and for $546,976.
Kim Dominguez, Corre Caminos director, explained the two were federal grants under which the entity operates. The first was a job access reverse grant to transport people to work, for which the Deming Public Schools provides the match.
The second is a rural transportation grant for demand-response, fixed-route and modified demand-response services. The matches come from the counties of Grant, Luna and Hidalgo and the municipalities within the counties.
Saari explained Luna County and Deming each give $60,000 match; Silver City and Grant County, each $30,000 and Hidalgo County and Lordsburg, each $10,000.
"We do not have an agreement with Hidalgo County and Lordsburg, but they pay," Dominguez confirmed. "Our ridership this year is up to 127,000. Every year it grows by at least 5 percent. We added Corre Cantinas in Lordsburg and now have 20 to 50 riders a weekend."
Commissioner Gabriel Ramos invited her to attend the work sessions and give reports.
Under bids, Saari recommended that the price agreement be approved with Lawley Ford in Silver City and Monette Ford in Socorro. In comparing prices, and including transporting vehicles, which would be required from Socorro, Lawley was lowest, with Monette second.
"This gives us options, if one has the vehicle we need and the other doesn't," Saari said. "It doesn't obligate us to buy from either, and anybody in the state can piggyback on our agreements with the dealerships."
County commissioners, as the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board, approved 1179 indigent claims for $685,176.15.
After reconvening as the Grant County Board of Commissioners, the members heard county reports.
Villa reminded the public that his office has employees in the Mimbres assessing homes. "Each employee has identification and is traveling in county marked vehicles."
Treasurer Alfred Sedillo said he received notice that the 2012 tax bills have been printed, and they will be sent out on Oct. 31.
County Clerk Robert Zamarripa said early voting continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Clerk's Office, as well as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the Bayard Community Center. Both venues will be open for voting on the last day to vote early, Saturday, Nov. 3.
"We have already processed 4,355 ballots," Zamarripa said. "That is a 20 percent turnout."
He said the Convenience Centers for Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, will be the Grant County Business and Conference Center, The Woman's Club, the Tyrone Community Center, National Guard Armory in Santa Clara, Bayard Community Center and Hurley Community Center. Anyone registered to vote in Grant County may vote at any of these locations on Election Day.
Residents of the county living in outlying areas may vote at their combined precinct locations at Cliff High School, San Lorenzo Elementary School, Sapillo Volunteer Fire Department, Pinos Altos VFD, and in Mule Creek, Red Rock and Hachita. For more information, call the office at 575-574-0042.
Saari said the newly approved vehicle price agreement would make it easier for the county to spend locally, so the dealership's employees will have money to spend locally. "We hope to do more price agreements, so we can spend more locally."
Commissioner Christy Miller said she and interim county attorney, Dave Gorman and Saari were addressing the issue of allowing county owners of liquor licenses to serve on Sundays. If the ballot issue passes, Saari said they think the liquor license owner may have to go back to the state and also may have to hold a public hearing in front of the Commission.
Jessica Ybarra of Loma Verde Subdivision asked if the group is still in the process of getting the roads fixed through an assessment district. "We want to make sure we are still moving forward."
Kasten reassured her that things are proceeding. "Once the government gets hold of something, it takes time."
Ramos assured her that the process was moving forward.
Kasten reported the issue of replacing a weather-damaged building at the Fairgrounds is also proceeding.
He also pointed out that it has been several years since county personnel have had raises, and the issue will be considered in the next budget.
The next work session will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, with the regular meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. They will be the only two meetings in November.