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Grant County Commission holds work session 102219, part 2

[Editor's Note: This is part two and the final of a multi-part series of articles on the Grant County Commission work session of Oct. 22, 2019. This one begins the review of the regular meeting on Oct. 24, 2019 and included decisions made at the regular meeting.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

As the Grant County Commission work session of Oct. 22, 2019 continued, County Financial Officer Linda Vasquez presented the expenditure report for the month.

Vasquez:
Total expenditures for the period ending Oct. 17, 2019, the sum was $3,074,534.38, which included two pay periods totaling $402,255.73. The full report is available on our new website (grantcountynm.gov).

gc expditure report over 10k 101719

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards:
It seems like a lot to spend $12,000 on a freezer and range for the Gila Senior Center.

General Services Director Randy Villa:
We're trying to save some on maintenance. We are buying the best commercial appliances we can.

Edwards:
We just heard from Mike (Carillo) that the Detention Center has changed food services. Is this the last billing for Summit?

Vasquez:
Yes.

Edwards:
Why are we paying CES (Cooperative Educational Services, which is the purchasing cooperative for the state of New Mexico) for our roof?

County Manager Charlene Webb:
We pay CES as the vendor. We go to them and to the state contract for expenses up to $1 million.

Edwards:
We paid $21,000 to Stantec Engineering for the parking lot?

Webb:
The project will start in November.

District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne:
Why is there no conduit for solar included in the parking lot bid? I hear geology was the problem. I also have a question about TrueConnect that we worked with a couple of years ago to provide small loans to employees. Instead of payday loans, which have high interest rates, this program offers reasonable interest rates and consulting for borrowers. Is it your impression that the employees like it?

Vasquez:
It's marginal. Only a few are using the program.

District 2 Commissioner Javier Salas:
Is there any way to drill down to know what's coming from grants, bonds, the general fund, more specifically from our operating funds?

Vasquez:
They are in the report.

Edwards:
We've had a couple of big roof projects. Are you happy with them?

Villa:
Yes, we got on the roof when we brought in the new HVAC units. There will be another inspection after the HVAC units are installed. Jason (Lockett) seems happy with the work. We had some issues, but we feel they fixed them.

Edwards:
Who does the inspections?

Planning and Community Development Director Michael "Mischa" Larisch:
State inspectors. Jason is happy with the work and with the warranty. When they took off the gutters, they fixed the wall and will wrap the roof around the soffits. It will benefit them, too. The warranty is better. It's for 20 years. We still have a punch list, but with the warranty, any time we see a problem, they will come address it.

Webb:
It's a 20-year product warranty.

Larisch:
We did have some carpet damage from leaks, but Five Star dealt with it.

Webb:
The company also replaced the sheet rock where it was damaged.

Salas:
For photo-voltaic work, I would like to see how much it would cost.

Webb:
When we did the energy audit in order to know the reality of a payoff, we found we needed a lot of work on energy efficiency first. We are replacing the HVAC, doing lighting retrofits, HVAC retrofits, then we will look at solar for several buildings. We need to do the first steps first.

Browne:
We can keep reminding staff that we ultimately want solar. I personally trust that you are looking into it and will do it when it makes financial sense. It's not our job to do engineering. The county will make it work when they can.

Webb:
Under new business, at the meeting on Thursday we will have a presentation. The magistrate courts are now under the state judicial system. The Silver City Magistrate Court is having troubles with the building, including flooding. The state wants to talk to you about potential locations and a new facility.

Browne:
At the meeting on the old detention center, we discussed possibilities.

Webb:
They are aware of our discussion. We talked about tearing down the old jail and making it a judicial complex. I don't know what they are thinking. They are looking to you for a partnership as they have in other counties.

Chairman and District 1 Commissioner Chris Ponce:
We had the public meeting and had great input. I'm hearing they are going to visit other locations. Isn't it our choice what we offer?

Browne:
We are required to provide facilities for the District Court, but not the magistrate court. I think we will work together for the benefit of all.

Ponce:
Can we say this is what we have to offer?

Webb:
I presume they will offer something and it's up to you to decide if it's right. They are talking about county-owned buildings.

District 4 Commissioner Billing Billings:
That could be lucrative for the county.

Webb:
We could possibly enter into a long-term contract with the state that would pay for the lease and the operational costs.

In the visioning meeting on the old detention center, we talked about being able to move other state agencies into it or a replacement facility.

We also have an opportunity to keep the dollars local instead of to outside entities, as we are doing now for the current Silver City Magistrate Court.

Browne:
It would be perhaps less than making money, but would be less cost to us, at least.

Larisch:
We are waiting for architectural renderings. We have additional funding for phase 2 assessments. We are waiting for the New Mexico Environment Department and the EPA to free up the funding.

Edwards:
Once that's done will we understand if there is asbestos or lead?

Larisch:
Yes, and it will probably be after January.

On the Shooting Range, we have met all the obligations of the Forest Service for a 30-year permit. Then we will go after grant funding to improve it.

Commissioners approved the Special Use Permit at the regular meeting on Thursday.

Two applicants were under consideration for the Shooting Range Board—Robert C. Hawkins and Roger Lanse.

At the regular meeting, commissioners chose Robert C. Hawkins to fill the single vacancy on the board.

Vasquez had identified potential funding for the D.A.R.E. program.

Edwards:
It was mentioned that money had been taken from the Reserve Deputy Fund because the program was not active. Are you planning to start up the program again?

Sheriff Frank Gomez:
The Reserve Deputy Program was suspended last year in October or November, because the reserves were all elderly. My goal was to bring back the program and make it open to younger ones who might be interested in law enforcement as a career. The fund did have $15,000, and we took $5,000 out for the D.A.R.E. program and then another $5,000. We put in $30,000 from an anonymous donor, with $5,000 to the reserve fund and $25,000 to D.A.R.E.

We have $10,000 in the reserve deputy fund and we are looking at different certifications for reserves for qualifications. We are not sure how much it will cost. We are considering steps, such as in Step 1, they would not be able to arrest anyone. We figure we need about $15,000, including uniforms.

Vasquez:
The uniforms will come out of the reserve deputy fund. And actually, from the anonymous donor, we put $20,000 to D.A.R.E. and $10,000 to the reserve fund.

Edwards:
My concern is that the major portion of your funding is from an anonymous funder. What if the anonymous funder goes away?

Gomez:
We also go to local businesses for financial help. If we ran into the problem of not enough money, we will have to limit our expenses, cut the pizzas and bicycles to the winners. The D.A.R.E. catalogue gives no discounts. It's $48 for a backpack and $6-$8 for T-shirts.

Ponce:
You will have to pay now to teach the kids or the county will pay later for the crimes and criminals. But I see that the reserve program is important, too. I have a concern how to keep both going.

Browne:
When we had Bowen Perry here, the advocate for D.A.R.E., he made a reference to the difference from what our kids did and what you do now. You have added a lot of components you said, but you gave no specifics on the components. I would appreciate seeing what there is that makes it an effective program and why you are convinced of the effectiveness of the program.

Gomez:
We got statistics from D.A.R.E. The old training was just on drugs. Now, it's a different topic every week, from bullying to how to get out of situations, to networking, health effects of drugs and alcohol, prevention of suicide and an opioid topic. It is more science-based, and I think it is awesome. It builds rapport with law enforcement, so children have trust in officers. I will have Lt. Burns send you the statistics.

Salas:
I have grandchildren in D.A.R.E. When I was a juvenile, the relationship with probation officers was adversarial, but now I see good rapport between children and law enforcement, but how do we measure the intangibles?

For the corrected PERA qualifications report for a Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department volunteer:

Ponce:
Do we have the records from 2007?

Villa:
Yes, Tyrone has all the records. This is a paper one.

Commissioners approved the corrected report at the regular meeting.

Commissioners also approved a Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire Department Fire Protection Grant application for $371,000 for a water tender.

Villa:
They have a carryover of fire protection funds of $78,000 and the application is for the remainder. All will be paid with fire protection funds.

Grant County Administration is also applying for a Fire Protection Grant for $178,880 to replace Dispatch equipment, minus a match of $35,776. We have the equipment in the volunteer fire departments, but not in Central Dispatch. It's what all the VFDs are looking for to improve dispatch communication. It will include a repeater, a base station, a tower and other equipment.

Webb:
Proper equipment is required for the ISO number. This equipment will also help with the homeowner's insurance rates, because of an improved ISO number.

Commissioners at the regular meeting approved the grant application.

For the next agenda item, commissioners approved asset deletions of a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria from the Sheriff's Office and a Xerox Work Center from the Planning Department.

The next item addressed an agreement with the Department of Transportation.

Larisch:
We put this tem under agreements, but it will be moved to resolutions. It addresses projects with the Department of Transportation, including the North Hurley roads and drainage project and pavement rehabilitation improvements.

This is an example of a shovel-ready project. We had the design done and were ready to get the money. Bandoni is another shovel-ready project we are looking for funding for.

Commissioners approved the resolution at the regular meeting.

Webb:
VitalCore Health Services at the Detention Center is requesting an amendment to their contract to increase to $705,000, which is an increase of $153,000, but we have saved money at the jail. It increases to full-time two EMTs and one behavioral health provider. It will also add hours for the doctor, as well as more telehealth services. It will reduce inmate visits to the hospital. We will have a better relationship and better handoffs to the hospital.

Ponce:
How much have we saved?

Webb:
When I came here, we were looking at $40,000 to $50,000 a month. Now it's closer to $3,000 a month.

Edwards:
For this additional staff, VitalCore will do the hiring?

Webb:
Yes. And this will help our accreditation, because a significant part of accreditation is medical. This is a key part we need in place. One of the positions is new for a pilot project. It will be a temporary position for one year. The behavioral health person can likely do group sessions.

Edwards:
With all the other stuff we're working on, like the Stepping Up program, maybe we won't need as much.

Ponce:
Once we are accredited, we will have to maintain everything at that level.

Webb:
I emailed you requesting renewal of my contract. I also provide an email for items needed and clarifying language.

Ponce:
Your contract is good until 2021.

Webb:
It allows for renewal to 2023. My contract requests renewal every year with the possibility for two years of extension.

Browne:
It has a vehicle allowance. If you use your personal vehicle within the county there is no reimbursement, but outside the county there is.

Webb:
I looked at a lot of other municipal and county contracts. Maintenance for my personal vehicle is $4800 a year.

Browne:
Per mile that is 9,000 miles not counting your commute.

Webb:
I try my best to keep mileage records. I prefer the county Explorer be available for others to use.

Browne:
My gut reaction is against indexing things. CPI is related to urban, not rural. I would prefer the transportation CPI.

Webb:
I can do that.

Browne:
Fringe benefits. A proportion of the 180 sick days over the life of the contract, you can bank. Why 80 days? How much sick leave have you now accrued?

Webb:
Four hours per pay period, so 13 days.

Ponce:
I think sick days and vacation days are OK.

Salas:
What is the dollar amount for the county paying 75 percent of PERA?

Browne:
I think the requirement is 50 percent, so 75 percent is higher.

Ponce:
I read here the requirements are compensation, annual evaluation and performance. When we renew the contract, I think there needs to be more steps on how to measure performance. We need more clear direction than just the evaluation. To be fair we need to look at how to measure performance. The budget is going great. Maybe the direction hasn't been there from us. I don't mind accruing sick leave or paying 75 percent of PERA, but I think this is too broad. We may not be ready by Thursday.

Webb:
You did increase the evaluation this year.

I added language on the evaluation and asked at a minimum to have the renewal within 30 days.

Browne:
I think that belongs in policy and not in this contract.

Ponce:
I believe we have to look at performance measures to reach our goals and her goals. What I want to see is you succeed so we succeed. We need to put a little more thought into performance measures.

Webb:
You completed my evaluation a couple of months ago. Do you need more? I'm confused. I thought this was part of renewing the contract.

Ponce:
We did have a meeting with our goals.

Billings:
I think this was the first really thorough evaluation of the county manager.

Webb:
It was a thorough process and evaluation.

Billings:
The process seems onerous. We all had input. Everyone who wanted to put input in could. I thought it was a thorough evaluation. This is a process every October. Our county manager has a lot more experience than, for instance, the GRMC CEO.

Browne:
We did a survey. I haven't seen the results of the survey.

Edwards:
I sent a detailed version, but we haven't had a commission discussion on it.

Browne:
I would like to discuss the survey. Let's move this renewal to November.

Ponce:
I want to make sure we do due diligence. You fail; we fail.

Salas:
What we were doing yesterday in our goal setting meeting is to make sure our visions are valid. I need more information. We're changing things, trying to do the right thing.

Browne:
Could we consider a one-year contract extension? Mathematically, it doesn't make sense to every year extend by two years. In 10 years, you have a 20-year contract. It is written appropriately for the first contract to give sustainability and job security.

Webb:
I would be happy to accept any extension.

Salas:
She still has two years on her contract. I need more information from other areas.

Edwards:
I have a couple of thoughts. I think a lot of effort was made on this evaluation process. If we want to think of other points of evaluation, I think it's appropriate to consider at this point in time. We started our strategic visioning meeting and will hold another one in January. While I'm not opposed to additional points of evaluation, I think it's unfair to put additional goalposts out there with an unknown time limit at the last minute. I don't feel good about how we've handled this.

Salas:
I didn't equate the evaluation with an automatic extension.

Edwards
The way we've handled this is inappropriate. I think we should have had this conversation months ago. This particular thing we have dropped the ball on. We have placed the county manage in an uncomfortable position without having a discussion in executive session.

Billings:
Let's tie up the loose ends and do it next month.

Browne:
I don't want to add additional goal posts. Maybe next year, we can put in more goal posts.

Ponce:
We need to find time for additional goal posts. That's the hardest thing I'm having. The contract won't expire tomorrow.

Webb:
I am clarifying things. We began the visioning session yesterday. Will that be tied to my evaluation? We are going to create a five-year plan due in January.

Ponce:
The five-year plan is a tool to measure our goals weekly and monthly. We are not tying the evaluation to this goal, but what is our progress.

Salas:
The county manager will lead us toward the goals.

Browne:
I don't expect us to impose anything on you but work with you on the goals. Yes, the evaluation subjective discussion should be in executive session, but objective should be in open session.

Edwards:
I would request this discussion not be on Thursday, because I have to leave at noon.

Browne:
I think we can get into executive session and have time. If it's too late, we can cancel that part of the executive session.

The next item was to name members to the Dispatch Authority.

Webb:
Prior to this time, we had two members. Now, they want one member and one alternate.

Browne:
I am willing to be the alternate. I think the county manager is more knowledgeable on the issues.

The next item was the 2020 budget adjustments. The increase in revenue was 2.3 million, with an increase in expenditures of 2.4 million.

Browne:
It would be easier for us to allow time for questions. Why do we have additional revenue for the census outreach?

Larisch:
We got a grant. We brought it forward in September. We applied and got approved. We are looking to do radio ads. The PR (public relations) stuff will start in November and with $35,000, we will hit it hard in March.

Browne:
What about the changes in salaries and benefits?

Webb:
That was a result of conversation for you to consider another HR (human resources) person — director or a specialist to have time to put into investigations. With only one person, it has been a challenge and injects me into things that I shouldn't be involved in.

Browne:
That is great news to have another HR person.

The budget adjustments were approved at the regular meeting.

The next item addressed a bid for the Tyrone Ridge Road Bridge.

Randy Hernandez, procurement officer:
The bid was over our budget developed from estimates. We recommend rejecting the bid. We will go out to bid again.

Webb:
The estimate was $80,000 and the bid came in at $204,000.

Road Superintendent Earl Moore:
The contractor putting in the bid was from Albuquerque and he put in the out-of-town travel that would be required. I think we will try to do it through the state contract process and see what we get.

Commissioners rejected the bid at the regular meeting.

Edwards:
A couple of people have mentioned to me that a lot of project money is coming out of Santa Fe. Contractors are really busy. It will take time to get things done. Everyone is nodding their heads. Is there any project that is in danger of not getting done?

Moore:
I don't think so.

Villa:
It's the same with the senior center deadlines. They will be extended.

Webb:
Most are four years out. We generally finish ahead of time.

Larisch:
For the Rosedale Road Colonias project, 80 percent has to be expended. We're beyond that, so we can apply again.

As the Grant County Health Care Claims Board, the commissioners at the regular meeting approved the claims in the amount of $3,018.50.

Next were commissioner reports.

Salas:
I want to comment that I enjoyed our visioning meeting. Taking the county into a directed way will be a big help. There are things we should be doing. We need a plan to finish things we start, so we don't encounter them again.

Browne:
I echo the enjoyment of visioning. I want to commend the county manager's reports.

Edwards:
I echo not letting things fall through the cracks. We need a better way to pay attention to them. I'm very optimistic on our visioning day yesterday.

Billings:
I will echo the thoughts on visioning. It was interesting going through it with a facilitator. I look forward to preparing for our next session on January 16.

Ponce:
It was a great session. Sort of a bonding session. We have county employees there to make us understand. I think we're heading in the right direction. Thanks to Edwards and the county manager for putting it together.

I met with Mischa and the county manager on the Bataan Park process. I'm pleased with the process and scope of work. It goes to the foundation. We have to have a solid foundation. I'm happy with the way the project is going.

We have resolved a lot of the problems Mr. Lucero was having with his animals and his neighbor's dogs.

Gomez:
We haven't had any additional complaints since the follow up.

Ponce:
I keep bringing up a recognition program for county employees.

Webb:
We have to come up with options for employee recognition. We are all working on that and the training process. Mr. Springer (from the attorney firm, Holt, Mynatt and Martinez) sent me a sample ordinance you requested on false alarms.

The meeting adjourned.

The next article will cover portions of the regular meeting not covered here.

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