[Editor's Note: This is part 3, and the long final article of a multi-part series that covers the July 23, 2019 work session and the July 25, 2019 regular meeting.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

At the Grant County Commission work session on July 23, 2019, after county department head reports and a presentation on Literacy Link-Leamos, County Manager Charlene Webb began a review of the regular meeting agenda for July 25, 2019. The first article can be read at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/52265-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-hears-presentation-072319 Webb noted that the annual Grant County Assessor's report would be presented at the regular meeting. Assessor Raul Turrieta said he would have a PowerPoint presentation.

Randy Hernandez, county chief procurement officer, presented the financial report, ending on July 18, 2019. The total expenditures for the past month are $2,085,199.43, with two payroll periods amounting to $422,828,57 included in the overall total


Commission Chairman Chris Ponce asked about the extraordinary expense of $15,000 to go to New Mexico State University. Webb explained that it was for the Grant County Extension Service. "NMSU provides an extension service, for 4-H, and educational programs and assistance, to every county in the state. Each office receives federal, state and local funding. This is our funding to our Grant County extension office."

He also asked about the funding for an ambulance for Gila Regional Medical Center. Webb said the county oversees the fire excise funding, which pays for items such as an ambulance and that the money did not come out of county funding.


Commissioner Harry Browne asked if the ambulance was a lease-purchase, to which Hernandez confirmed it was.

At the Thursday regular session, the first item on the agenda was reports from elected officials. Sheriff Frank Gomez was first to speak. He gave details of the past month's statistics, including an inmate his department picked up in California and delivered to Las Cruces. He reported that domestic violence cases were 12 in the past month compared to 22 in the same period last year. Larcenies are on the rise from 8 last year to 13 this year. "We have a lot of increases in incidents because the public is calling us about what they see. It's great to have citizens helping us." He said welfare checks have greatly increased from four last year to 55 in the same period this year. Crashes are also higher. "We are doing more training on investigations. I will be sending some officers to learn about reconstruction on crashes." In the Tri-City area, deputies have answered 19 calls. Bayard has gone to 12-hour shifts and is taking care of its own. The department answered six calls in Hurley.

"We had a critical incident last week in Hurley," Gomez said. "Our office and Silver City continue to push on training on a special response team. It will be about a year and a half before we can get a team together."

He said the department continues to move forward in filling vacancies. "We have a deputy starting on August 8, and we have five left to hire, although we are working on four that are already certified."

Commissioner Javier Salas asked where the county stands on property damage liability that occurred during the Hurley incident.

"Regarding this incident," Gomez said. "We answered a shots-fired call. When it escalated, we called State Police, and we became secondary. Whether or not we're named in a tort, I don't know, but probably."

Commissioner Alicia Edwards asked about the demographics of the welfare checks.

"Many are self-reported," Gomez said. "Some come from CYFD and others from family members from out-of-the-area, who can't contact a person. Sometimes, we've gone to find unattended deaths."

Edwards asked if the increase in welfare checks is in specific demographics.

"Most are seniors or kids," Gomez said.

Edwards asked how difficult it was to report whether they were seniors or kids.

Gomez said the new CAD system that would be installed by the end of the year would help.

"The community is having a significant conversation about seniors," Edwards said, "so the data would help us to know how many live by themselves, especially women."

Gomez said he would do his best to get the breakdown on welfare checks.

Edwards said she would prefer the report give the man-hours for when the Sheriff's Department helps in the Tri-City municipalities.

Gomez said he was working with Luna County on a memorandum of understanding to have guidelines. "I will work with Manager Webb."

Browne said, in reference to the North Hurley incident, "I strongly support training for a special response team. This seemed like an extreme response out of proportion to the offense in Hurley."

Gomez said he probably would have made a similar decision. "It was a sad situation. If the subject had come out when asked to, it wouldn't have happened. We have to make split second decisions. They have to be made with all our training in mind, and they don't always come out the best. We knew weapons were involved."

Edwards said she wanted to say: "We have no idea what happened. It's just a little mind-boggling that we dismantled someone's home. I see it separately from the death of her son. I'm not sure one can justify dismantling a home to get to the son."

Billings said he understands when he gets pulled over. "It's for my safety, as well as that of the officers, so I always put my hands where they can be seen. Usually on the steering wheel. When the police ask you to comply, you should."

Salas said from what he understands, it was a deadly situation. "The only death was the perpetrator. When something happens, I'm glad you're there."

Ponce said he spent almost 24 years in law enforcement. "There are always so many factors. What other people do; who will it affect? My heart goes out to that lady. She lost her son and part of her home. I trust that those trained officers did the best they could."

Treasurer Steve Armendariz said he had nothing to add from the report his chief deputy gave at the last meeting.

Turrieta proceeded to give his report. "Every year, the assessor's office gets evaluation. We completed the certification and it was accepted by the state. It is status quo in the office and the mapping is working on the parcel update."

He presented the numbers for 2018 and explained that the department discovers, lists and values property.

He said the property value for the county increased by $17.8 million. "It was bolstered by utilities. We had been losing livestock, but it leveled out this year and showed moderate growth of about $250,000 in value. Copper was down 11 percent, well offsetting our gains. Residential property increased by 2.8 percent. Valuation maintenance is down, which is what we want, because new value lowers the rate, but it brings new revenue."

The parcel mapping correction corrects long-standing parcel mapping inaccuracies and brings the parcel map into the 21st Century, Turrieta said. "Every parcel has been identified and we have a process to combine multiple parcels under the same owner. At the end of May, the parcel mapping was 25 percent complete. But the parcels are way off in the Mining District. I will have Traci [Burnsed, who is the lead on the parcel mapping project] give you a presentation.

"We continue to be understaffed," Turrieta repeated his perpetual complaint.

Browne noted that the report the commissioners received was the 2017 report. Turrieta said he would send the correct one.

The expenditure report was approved at the regular meeting.

At the regular meeting, more public input addressed issues other than the hospital board.

Robert Donnelly said he has come to realize in his 80th year that it is time to play. "I'm passing off my responsibilities to younger folks. In new business, you will be appointing many volunteers. It's great to get airport aid. Infrastructure is what this whole thing is built upon. Grant County is moving in the right direction. Recycling is an issue. We have gotten beyond single stream. Silver City and Grant county will have the responsibility to take care of the trash. I lived in Berkeley for 15 years. It was interesting what they accomplished in recycling. But I thank you for what you're doing, so I don't have to be responsible for everything."

Gila Regional Chief Executive Officer Taffy Arias spoke. "I thank the people who came to support your decision on the hospital board. I thank you for your difficult decision. As a citizen of Grant County, I, as someone older than many people in this room, found the incident in Hurley quite devasting. Of course, we don't know all the facts yet. Newspapers are meant to be sold. Some are facts; some have been told to the reporter. As you know: There is your truth, my truth and the real truth. I may have missed something when I formed my truth."

She went on to say that she is involved at the hospital with the Sheriff's Department the Silver City Police Department, and "I've been extremely impressed. I would prefer to focus on the million and one things that they do right every day to make our environment safe. What I saw in the paper was most unfortunate. I know if I go 40 in a 30 mile-per-hour zone, I will get a ticket. That is secure for me, because I have been held accountable. I thank you and support law enforcement for what you do."

Ramon Terrazas, a Grant County resident and member of the State Police, said what he was about to say was not an official statement. "I can assure you that each and every one of us does our job. The investigation into the Hurley standoff is ongoing. I encourage you to withhold comment until you know the complete story. Having worked with these officers, I know they are subject matter experts. The best outcome is that everyone is safe. Sadly, we've seen an uptick in violence statewide. But I ask you to wait until all the facts are out. We put our lives on the line every day. Be assured that our intention is always for the best outcome. If you have a concern, although I cannot divulge anything that is under investigation, I am willing to talk to you. What is being reported is not necessarily accurate because the details have not been released by the department."

Commissioners at the regular meeting approved appointments to several boards, including the Shooting Range Advisory Board, the Lodger's Tax Advisory Board, the Tu Casa Advisory Board and the Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Webb said two applicants for two one-year terms at the Shooting Range were received. They are Gilbert Helton and Nancy Gordon. They were appointed at the regular meeting.

Webb reported that no applicants have been received for the Lodger's Tax Advisory Board. The county will continue to advertise the open positions.

Browne said he heard from someone that the board has no authority.

"They are an advisory board," Webb said. "I realized that they were overstepping their duties, and I asked them to return to being advisory. They come up with the best ways to spend lodger's tax dollars, but they don't spend them. I can sign anything under $20,000. But anything over that has to come to the commissioners. I have never overruled their decisions, but I have made some changes to their budget. I've attended marketing seminars, so I have cut some of what they spend. We now work with the Silver City Lodger's Tax Advisory Board, so we are more aligned in expenditures. I cut their budget, because they were just spending money because there was money, instead of determining where it should be best spent. We had no way to get feedback if our expenditures were bringing people to Grant County. I did have one person interested in being on the board, but she is in the early stages of her business and didn't yet have a business license. If she comes back with the license, we can consider her."

Webb said a Tu Casa Advisory Board position is open. Three applicants, including the retiring one, sent their names in. Because the retiring one is willing to return, but would prefer not to, the vacant position, with a motion by Browne, went to Dr. Robert E. Garrett, consultant psychiatrist at Fort Bayard Medical Center, employed by Silver Health Care.

The article on the Gila Regional Medical Center Board appointees can be read at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/52305-grant-county-commission-chooses-grmc-board-of-trustee-members-after-public-input-and-plenty-of-discussion-on-july-25-2019

The next item of business dealt with inventory deletions and transfers. A dump truck and Dodge Charger from the Road Department will be sent to auction, and a Fort Escort from the Sheriff's Department will be transferred to the Airport.

A letter of support for Literacy Link-Leamos was on the agenda. Mary Beth Folia of LL-L said she had spoken to Edwards and they decided it was not needed at this time, because the imminent threat has been alleviated. The presentation was covered in http://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/52265-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-hears-presentation-072319

Webb said she would leave it on the agenda, but it could be tabled. "I attended training from the Attorney General on IPRA and the Open Meetings Act. I received advice that will help us better comply with the OMA."

An agreement to be considered at Thursday's meeting addressed amendment No. 1 to a professional services agreement between Grant County and Sunny 505, formerly known as Griffin and Associates, so they can administer Lodger's tax. "We were performing our own work with our lodger's tax."

Commissioners approved the agreement to increase the monetary value of the contact by $15,000, so the firm can perform the marketing for the county using its lodger's tax funding.

Rebekah Wenger, airport manager, at the work session, spoke to a resolution authorizing the submission of an application for airport aid to accept resulting grant offers and executive of contract documents for the taxiway and aprons at the Grant County Airport.

"We had staged it in phases, but the New Mexico Department of Transportation requested us to combine the aprons and taxiway into one project for planning purposes," Wenger said. "We won't know the overall costs until the bids come in, but they are estimated at about $2 million. The county match would likely be between $50,000 and $55,000."

Webb said the county wants the bid documents before they go to the FAA to get the $2 million. "This is an opportunity for us to get a $2 million project done for a $50,000 to $55,000 match from us."

A resolution addresses the ICIP. Community Development and Planning Director Michael "Mischa" Larisch, at the work session, said he wanted discussion on the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan. He presented from the summary of the list the top five projects in priority. "For funding from Santa Fe, they usually look only at the top three. No. 1 is Road Department equipment; No. 2 is Bataan Memorial Park improvements; and No 3 is county vehicles. No. 4 is general road projects and No. 5 is the judicial complex.

[Editor's Note: Due to conversations among Larisch, individual commissioners and Webb, the priorities had changed by the time the regular meeting took place. The top priority became Airport Runway construction; No. 2 Bataan Memorial Park ADA Compliance; No. 3 county vehicle replacement; No. 4 school bus routes; and No. 5 Road department equipment. No. 6 is now general road projects.]

At the work session, Browne asked about the judicial complex and if this was for Phase 2 funding for the old detention center.

"Yes, we have funding for what needs to be done, and some funding from NMED and EDA for renderings, and these are very rough numbers," Larisch said. "This is opening up for dialogue. I am happy to make changes."

[Editor's Note: Because of uncertainty of cost estimates, the judicial complex project moved to No. 11 on the ICIP.]

Larisch said the $265,000 is for design, architect planning and any other environmental issues.

Webb said she has been approached by the Administrative Office of the Courts for possibly using the facility for the magistrate court.

Ponce noted that magistrate judges are state employees. "What does the state do to support them?"

"The state actually pays rent," Webb said, "as well as doing maintenance and janitorial services. We are trying to get the revenue from the AoC to go to the counties rather than to out-of-state entities who own buildings, as is the case right now. For one thing, the county is more reactive to security and maintenance issues."

Browne said he liked the idea that it would generate revenue for the county for decades.

Ponce thanked Larisch and said he wanted to get the judicial complex information out to the public.

"I know why we continually have vehicles on the ICIP," Ponce said. "But I'm tired of seeing them on the list. I want us to come up with a different method of replacing vehicles, maybe lease/purchase or something. We need another plan, not always going for capital outlay. Is there any way we can put the vehicles lower on the list? I'd rather see other things getting the capital outlay, other than vehicles."

Webb said: "That's why we're having this discussion. If you don't want to see them in the top five, tell us now what you want."

"I want to see the judicial complex, economic development, tech education, and trails to be higher up," Ponce said. "Fort Bayard should be up there, too. I think we as a county should be able to handle it when we come up with a need for vehicles."

Webb noted that the county had had an assessment done on vehicles. "A three- to five-year plan may work."

Browne suggested putting on the ICIP only a list of vehicles that the county needs immediately. "On the judicial complex, if the decision is made to demolish the existing structure, are we still looking at $350,000 for architecture services?"

"We are far from having good numbers we like," Larisch said. "It's in fifth place right now, because it is very unlikely that we will have firm numbers by January."

Browne said he understands the strategic way to handle capital outlay requests, but the top three constrains projects that need doing. "The logical way would be to have 10 $25,000 projects, instead of one $250,000 project. But there is no opportunity for a rational approach."

"The rules are in place," Webb said. "They change with each administration. It may change again. We were told that if the projects are not in the top three positions, they will not receive funding.

"We use this ICIP list for many other funding sources, too," she continued. "But whatever you wish to ask the Legislature for must be in the top 3."

Browne asked if there could be a column for details.

"This is a summary," Webb said. "Other pages will identify if, for instance, it is a CDBG project. Those details are on the full document. We have the details, but this is the form submitted by the state that we have to use. We can't add a column to it. We can send you the details."

Salas asked what criteria were used to place items on the ICIP. "The university asked for a lot of money last year and got it. What is the $250,000 for Bataan Park?"

"That is the engineering estimate," Larisch said. "The maximum we can receive from CDBG is $750,000, so we have to come up with $250,000 for the $1 million project. We put it in the top three, so we can ask for it from capital outlay."

Webb said the amount of money the state has "plays a role in what we ask for. The problem in the past was people would ask for smaller amounts, so projects would be partially funded, but the counties could never complete them, because they didn't have enough funding. There is creative thinking happening on the state level. First, we need planning and design money for Bataan Memorial Park. We can phase it."

Salas asked if the county plans for replacing vehicles "or are we at the mercy of the state?"

Webb said the county needs to catch up on vehicle maintenance. "If we can do that, the goal will for us to be able to replace some."

Salas also asked about the amount for the study on a master plan for trails and open spaces, which is sixth on the list. "Is there an option to ask for more than $100,000?"

Browne said he thought that amount was for design and planning. "Once that is solid, then we will be more likely to get funds for construction."

Webb said that is part of the question on what projects to put in the ICIP. "It is always based on whether the design and planning are completed."

Ponce said it makes sense to go to phasing. "Once we have a more solid plan, we have a better chance to get funding."

Salas said Silver City got Tim Castillo of the UNM School of Architecture to work on the Gough Park plan. "Can we get him to do Bataan?"

Ponce said that takes time, because Castillo takes on the projects for his students to do a lot of the work. "But we need to talk to him and get a possible timeline."

Commissioner Billy Billings said he is frustrated by how much the university got for door locks. "How do they do that? "

Browne said they were for centrally located electronically controlled locks, for security, in case of a lock down. "We see what they do and how we do it."

Salas said: "We need to lobby ourselves. Federal money is available, too."

"We would benefit from knowing the process for lobbying," Browne said.

Webb said the county could get a presentation from Brian Moore of New Mexico Counties on the lobbying process.

Browne said, as he understands it, the county's representatives and senator are given chunks of money, so "it might not help to lobby. They only have so much to go around. I do understand that the governor doesn't touch the representatives and senators' pots of money."

"Well, some things get funded in mysterious ways," Webb said. "That's all I'm going to say."

Ponce said the commissioners need to spend more time "up there this session."

"I think there are pots of money we don't know about," Salas said.

Turrieta said he had talked to Brian Moore. "He didn't mention much about this session. We would have to work on other pots of money, because this is a short session."

Webb brought them back to the ICIP. "I ask each of you to prioritize the projects, similar to what you did for the Gila Regional Board applicants. This is a list for you to determine what you want to see in the top five."

Billings said it was a good idea, "if it doesn't jeopardize what we are likely to get."

Browne noted they could discuss the ICIP again on Thursday.

Salas said he doesn't know what the Fort Bayard economic development item on the ICIP is for.

"It is contained in the details," Webb said. "We will send the details. It's to support Santa Clara, so the state can see the support from other government entities."

Larisch noted that each project has about four pages of details, so it will be large document for the 28 items on the list.

Webb said any projects that will ask for funding from CDBG have to be on the ICIP. "Some are placeholders for future years. We're happy to answer any questions. Ask me or Mischa."

Billings asked about the tech ed item, which is now No. 26 on the list. Larisch said it was to show support for the schools for technical education facilities.

At the regular meeting, Browne voted to table the ICIP. Webb warned that it must be in its final form and accepted by the last meeting in August, because it has to get to the state by Sept. 1.

In bids and requests for proposal, Randy Hernandez, chief procurement officer, at the work session, said five responses had been received for attorney and legal services, but two replied with a proposal. The committee that opened the bids and scored them recommends Holt, Mynatt and Martinez of Las Cruces.

"We recommend awarding the bid and going into contract negotiations," Hernandez said. "The proposals are confidential due to the nature of the competitive procurement process until the award is made."

He explained the cost estimate is hourly based. The firm will provide: essential services with 24/7 accessibility, confidentiality and document retention. "I contacted the Hidalgo County manager and she gave a glowing review."

Ponce asked if any commissioner could contact the firm or if it would need to be through certain persons.

"If everyone contacted them, it could get costly," Hernandez said. "They charge in six-minute increments. In the RFP, we said the contract would be for a year, with renewals possible. The contract will also have a termination clause for both parties."

Ponce noted the commissioners were spoiled by having in-house attorney Abigail Burgess.

Webb noted that New Mexico Counties also has a legal team. "We can ask them questions and get an immediate response, in addition to having a contract attorney."

Ponce asked who would control the costs. "We have to look at whether it is fiscally better to have an in-house attorney or a firm."

Webb said there were pros and cons to an in-house or a contract with a firm. "It's your decision."

Billings noted that in-house attorneys won't be knowledgeable on everything. "A firm should have someone who knows about the issues."

Browne said he thought one year was reasonable. "We may need some self-regulation, but I'm happy to see how it plays out. What is your experience in other counties?" he asked Webb.

"Commissioners were cognizant of costs," Webb said. "They would route the questions through me or to New Mexico Counties. A contract attorney represents everyone working for the county."

Browne asked if different departments could be billed. "No, sir," Webb replied. "The cost is in the Commissioners' budget."

The discussion continued at the regular meeting. Salas said he wanted to table it, because "we're not sure what we're doing. Before we make the award, I want to know what we're awarding. I want to consider the pros and cons of a contract or in-house. It was convenient to walk into Abby's office and ask a question. I would like to explore more."

Ponce said he wasn't completely convinced on a contract attorney. "We need a discussion on policing ourselves and not driving up costs. It has nothing to do with expertise. Maybe we need someone to replace Abby."

Billings said he called someone in Hidalgo County, who told him the commissioners have had unlimited access to the attorneys. "These firms have different areas of expertise. They don't have to research every issue and look for the correct answer. I think someone with different specialties is better. I think we will save money that we have spent on outside counsel on issues that our in-house counsel didn't know."

"I'm frustrated at our flip-flopping," Browne said. "We flip-flopped on the Animal control services; we've flip-flopped on the trustees. We've done it a number of times. We voted to do an RFP for a contract. I'm voting against tabling."

Salas asked what it would cost the county. "That was the primary consideration. Will it cost us more?"

Billings said it was his understanding that someone from the firm would attend the commission meetings and would be available on the phone at other times. "It could save us money not having to go to outside counsel to answer things that our in-house couldn't."

Hernandez noted the firm gave a cost estimate, but it's not a guarantee. One applicant gave a set range and the other was hourly. "We had a potential proposer, who asked us to cancel his proposal. We advertised the position for a year contract."

Webb said the RFP was issued at the direction of the Commission. "We would manage this contract as we do every other professional service, such as architectural."

Hernandez said if it were tabled, it would have to be accepted or rejected at the next meeting. "We are recommending to award. We have only 30 days until a contract must be completed. The evaluation committee was established. And due to procurement issues, I strongly recommend that a commissioner not be involved in the evaluation and contract negotiations, because of conflicts of interest. When we were asked to have a commissioner on the committee, I did some research among other counties. Ten of 10 said they did not have commissioners on the committee."

Edwards said it is one process for an in-house position, and if it's a contract, it has to follow procurement code.

Hernandez said the RFP is basically a job description.

"How urgent is it for us to have a county attorney?" Edwards asked.

Webb said the service is for the entire county staff. "When we had the in-house attorney, if someone wanted to talk to the attorney, they would have to go to the head of their department or the manager before they could talk to her."

Browne noted the manager had said on Tuesday that firms have worked well in other counties without any procedural process for limiting access.

Hernandez said the scope of work would be part of the contract negotiations. "We do plan to put in a 30-day termination clause."

Ponce said as he listens to constituents, he hears other things. "We may be flip-flopping, but we learn things outside of the meetings."

Edwards said she finds it extremely challenging to make big decisions without a lot of processing and discussing. "I am uncomfortable with the way we have changed our minds, but we don't always have enough information. We need to find a balance."

Salas said he thought the commissioners were awarding the contract at the meeting. "When we have the contract to discuss, it will clear up a lot of questions."

"If we move ahead with this," Browne said, "we will be discussing only this contract not whether or not we will consider an in-house attorney."

Hernandez said when the decision is made to award the RFP to one respondent, there is a level of faith that the county and the firm will go into contract negotiations and likely the contract will be awarded.

Edwards said she wanted to make sure that Hernandez understood it was not a discussion on whether he did his job. "I have complete faith that you operated in good faith."

Browne said he was concerned that the commissioners might go back on this award. "I move we enter into good faith negotiations for one year of attorney services."

Salas said his vote would be on whether it is viable for the county based on the financial commitment.

Hernandez said there would be a 30-day termination clause, but the firm may not be OK with that.

The vote was five ayes to proceed with the contract negotiations.

As the Health Care Claims Board, the commissioners, at the regular meeting, approved the Gila Regional Medical Center claims from May 2019 for $2,266.25 and for June for $555.64.

Salas had no commissioner's report at the work session.

Billings asked how the new schedule was working out. "Four meetings a month, plus special meetings, seems like a lot."

Browne announced the public hearing from the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division on close out plans on Chino and Tyrone for Wednesday, July 24, 2019. "It has nothing to do with whether the mines should close. They will eventually close, and this is preparing properly for that closure. Jim Kuipers, the foremost expert on financial assurance, will speak on the issue, so the mines are responsible for the closure and not the taxpayers. Having the financial resources in place is important to me. This relates to House Bill 255 that was not passed last year and why I supported it."

Ponce said fireworks and their noise need to be something the commissioners consider. "What veterans have to go through, as well as animals. What action do we need to take? I know that there can be restrictions in dry times. But I'm thinking about the effect on veterans. I also want to remind everyone that the Bayard Library asked for $8,000, but it isn't included in the budget. Libraries are part of the foundation for economic development. I want to revisit it. We can give $25,000 to the golf course, but not $8,000 to the library?"

Salas said the commissioners would meet in a special meeting on the budget on Monday, July 29, at 2 p.m. "Can we give a raise to hourly employees? What implication would it have on the Sheriff's Department and what they're doing? Could it be the same amount across the board in 25 cent increments? Could we re-allocate the golf course money to libraries or a raise?"

During the regular meeting, Salas said he wanted to make sure a raise is included in the budget. "I will talk to Linda (Vasquez, county financial officer) about the increments estimate."

Billings said: "Related to what Commissioner Salas said, what is in the budget for raises?"

Webb said that Vasquez and she were working to bring everyone to the mid-level. "We included some funding in a special reserve fund, set aside in the budget. However, we were in the process of assessment of every position. We request that we complete this assessment of positions, conduct a market analysis and ensure we are staying within the market. Please give us time to finish the process before you make a decision on raises. I would like to talk to each of you before Monday. We did the majority of the work in 2016 and we're reviewing it now. We have begun the process. As Linda and I were reviewing the positions, several job descriptions jumped out at us. If all department participate to make sure job descriptions are accurate and what changes should be made, it will probably take us 6-8 months. Sometimes, it's difficult to get data from other counties, but we will have a discussion with the consultant that is helping us."

Ponce agreed the job descriptions should be aligned correctly.

Edward had a clarifying question. "You and I talked about the step plan in the Sheriff's Department. Overall, does it continue to be part of the plan?"

"Yes, this is the first step," Webb said.

Edwards said the discussion is on whether "we're efficient and whether the departments are composed correctly. I think we need to evaluate whether we have the right positions, the right people in the positions and the positions in the right departments. We have to make sure we're evaluating at every level."

Webb concurred that is the intent. "But it's long-term. If it's a union job, we can make recommendations, but the union has to approve any changes."

Salas asked if raises could be given retroactively.

"There is contradictory information on whether that is allowable," Webb said.

Edwards had no commissioner report at the regular meeting.

Browne said in early August, he would attend a seminar on Building New Mexico's clean future. "I've signed up for two workshops. They will take place on Aug. 5 and 6, so I will miss the work session."

Edwards said she was also considering attending. "I can't miss any more meetings, because I will miss the last two meetings in August.

Webb said she also wanted to attend the renewable energy conference. "We can combine the work and regular sessions on Aug. 8. We'll look at it."

Salas said he had visited with Sens. Heinrich's and Udall's staff and talked about trails, the forest, parks, and they suggested some funding might be available.

"If we decided to go the route of a position, we should have a serious conversation with the town to develop the position," Edward said.

"And the Mining District," Salas said.

Ponce said it had been interesting some of the discussions that the commission has had. "We need to revisit them for the commissioners to come up with goals and what direction the county wants to go. What expectations do we have? It will help us continue to serve Grant County. It probably should be sooner rather than later."

Salas said maybe it should be a strategic plan. "We need to look at solar and alternative energy. Maybe a retreat to talk about these issues."

Edwards said there had been discussion on updating the comprehensive plan. "I think we need some strategic visioning, using the comprehensive plan as a structure. We would need to have it professionally facilitated, so the document is usable. I don't know how many people would show up."

The commissioners went into executive session, not expecting any action following the session.

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