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Grant County Commission hears proposal on MOU with Health Council

Grant County commissioners at their morning work session Tuesday, Dec. 11, heard an update from Tiffany Knauf, Grant County Community Health Council coordinator, on a memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Health Council.

Members of the Health Council By-Laws Committee met with County Manager Jon Paul Saari and District 3 Commissioner Christy Miller to formulate the MOU, based on a previous one the health council had with the Department of Health.

"We are the county health and wellness planning authority for Grant County. The Commission gets a lot of funding requests," Knauf said. "We wanted to Provide applicants and the Commission with a consistent, accessible, objective and timely proposal review process. Any organization that requests funding will contact the county manager or me."


The requestor will receive a packet of what is required to request and get funding.

"We will review the applications," Knauf said. "We will not say whether the commissioners should approve or not, but whether it meets Health Council priorities or meets a need in the community. In addition, those who receive funding will be required to give quarterly reports to the commission on what the project has achieved.  

"It also helps us track funding within and from outside the community to avoid duplication," Knauf continued. "If a requestor does not receive funding, we can direct them toward appropriate sources, if applicable."

The effective date, if approved by the County Commission at its regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13, will be Jan. 1, 2013.

Knauf assured the commissioners that the process would be strictly advisory, with all final decisions remaining the responsibility of the commissioners.

Miller said she thought it would be a "great process."

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said the biggest problem with requests is complying with the state anti-donation clause.

Knauf confirmed that the Health Council would scrutinize applications for that issue. In the packet will be a copy of the anti-donation clause.

Miller asked if Knauf would be working with Nikki Zeuner of The Wellness Coalition to create sustainability for the groups that request funding. Knauf said she would meet with Zeuner that afternoon.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos asked for more time to review the proposal, but because he knows Miller wants to see the issue resolved before she leaves office, he asked that the item remain on the agenda.

Ramos also asked if any survey had been done among residents on the issue of proposed Forest Service road closures. Knauf said the Health Council could aid in such a survey. "We can also do a study on potential health, both economic and physical, impacts by such a policy."

Kasten said he was comfortable with the proposed MOU, as was Miller.

Knauf said she also included in the packet to the commissioners a copy of the report she gave to the Prospectors' Legislative Forum with a preliminary report on the recently completed Community Assessment Survey. Kasten asked that once the profile is complete in January that she give a presentation to the Commission.

Saari gave an overview of the financial reports. The general fund at the end of October had in it $2,137,767, with an estimated cash balance at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2013, of $2,420,887, minus the required three-twelfths cash reserve of $2,105,342, leaving a projected surplus of $315,545.

He said 14.06 percent of budgeted revenues have been received to date.

The Road Fund has a cash balance, as of Oct. 31, of $221,720, with end of fiscal year cash balance projected to be $334,860, minus the one-twelfth reserve of $130,935, leaving an estimated surplus of $203,925.

The Corrections Fund has a negative balance as of Oct. 31, of -$95,485, because no transfers from the general fund have occurred. They usually happen after the first of the calendar year. Total projected cash balance at the end of the year is $76,574. The fund is not required to have a reserve.

The expenditure report for a full month shows expenses of $2,362,868.74, including two payrolls. The expenditures also include $237,000 for construction at the County Business and Conference Center and $153,000 in improvements at the Grant County Airport.

Under new business, commissioners will consider a certificate of recognition to Debbie Rogers for serving as the 2012 president of the Realtors Association of New Mexico.

They will also consider approval of the 2010 audit report. It has been completed, sent to the state, reviewed and approved by the state. Upon Commission approval, it will be released to the public.

Saari said the auditor expects the 2011 audit to be sent to the state by the end of this week, and the 2012 audit by the end of next week.

Kasten asked if the commission should plan a special meeting to approve the audits. It likely will be required.

Saari said he is getting calls that Grant County is No. 1 on the audit risk list, because counties are listed before municipalities. "Once the 2011 is sent in, we will be off the list."

County Planner Anthony Gutierrez noted that if the audits through 2012 were not completed before the end of the year, it would jeopardize, not only legislative capital outlay funding, but also Community Development Block Grant and Colonias Infrastructure funding.

Commissioners will approve or disapprove the deletion from county inventory of three county-owned buildings located at the Fairgrounds. The buildings will be replaced by a 220-foot-by-100-foot building for pigs, sheep and steers, rabbits and poultry, and restrooms.

The county will apply for a loan through the New Mexico Finance Authority and will ask the legislature for funding to repay the loan. Insurance paid the county $62,000, which is being used for design. "The building was not salvageable," Saari said. "It was built in the 1940s and is probably worth more as salvage scrap. We feel better to have it down and rebuilt to fit its purpose."

Commissioners will consider a Sole Community Provider Supplemental Payment from Gila Regional Medical Center of $1,170,048. Saari explained the payment is not giving the hospital more than it is due; it is just helping GRMC reach its maximum funding.

The Commission will hear an update from the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce on Visitor Center statistics, and the Green Chamber activities.

Lonnie Sandoval, Loma Verde Road resident, will discuss with the commissioners the progress on improvements of the road.

Saari said Road Superintendent Earl Moore and Gutierrez have looked at the road and it doesn't appear to be within its easements. A surveyor has been hired to determine where boundaries are before upgrading the road. Saari said it is likely the county will have to do a brand new dedication of the road rights-of-way.

Ramos asked about Viva Santa Rita's subdivision roads.

Saari said the 1981 plat was public, but never dedicated as a county-maintained road. A meeting would be held on Jan. 7, with the residents to determine the next step. Gutierrez said the subgrade seemed to have been done correctly, so it would not require as much work as Loma Verde.

Kasten asked about Camino Verde. "We may have three improvement districts at the same time." Saari said there have also been requests from residents of Noonday Road.

Kasten suggested changing the ordinances, because "homeowners groups taking responsibility for maintenance never work. We need developers to put roads to standards."

Assessor Randy Villa said road improvements would increase property values, but not necessarily valuation until the market shows increases.

"The residents want it done; we should do it," Kasten said.

Saari also addressed the burning of a building in Hanover, for which he has received questions. "It was a condemned building, and the volunteer fire department burned it as a training exercise. We will build a new fire station or park on the property."

Commissioners will consider a request from the Forgotten Veterans' Memorial Committee to be fiscal agent for the group, which is asking for capital outlay.

Saari said being fiscal agent for capital outlay is generally easy and not too costly to the county. Gutierrez said the downside is that groups generally have not done much planning or engineering or do not ask for enough to complete a project.

The Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society has also asked the county to be fiscal agent.

The site of the Forgotten Veterans' Memorial is owned by the county, which makes it more reasonable for it to be the fiscal agent. Gutierrez said the county, in that case, could assist the group in making a good plan, so it has a good application.

County Attorney Abby Robinson asked if the Health Council would also review fiscal agent applications. Saari said it would, because such requests have the same issues.

Ramos suggested it be specific on the policy and the MOU. Gutierrez said the Planning Department also should review such requests.

Kasten pointed out that some capital outlay requests are competing with the county for funding.

Gutierrez said community organizations should approach the county with fiscal agent requests well before the Prospectors Forum in December. Saari suggested that policy be changed for groups to ask the county to be fiscal agents well before the Forum.

"Realistically the county may get in capital outlay $200,000," Kasten said. "We need to make sure what we ask for is what we want."

Gutierrez said Morales told him it is better to get all requests on the books, whether they can be funded this year or next.

Saari suggested fiscal agent requests should follow certain criteria. He noted that Armando Amador is a "great voice for veterans and he is well aware of procurement and keeps requests to the basics."

The rest of the meeting will be covered in a subsequent article.

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