[Editor's Note: Due to the length of this work session and regular meeting, they will be broken up into several articles. This one will begin to cover the regular meeting agenda review and actions.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

After two presentations at the Grant County Commission work session on Jan.12, 2021 and following several county reports, which can be read at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/62272-grant-county-commission-hears-presentations-at-work-session-011221-part-1 , https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/62328-grant-county-commission-hears-a-second-presentation-at-work-session-011221and-grmc-update-at-regular-meeting-011421-part-2 and https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/62340-grant-county-commissioners-january-2021-work-session-and-regular-meeting-part-3 , County Manager Charlene Webb began the review of the regular meeting agenda.

No public input was heard at the work session, but many items of public input were heard at the regular meeting, the topic of which will be discussed in a future article.

The first item was the election of officers. At the regular meeting, District 1 Commissioner Chris Ponce was re-elected as chairman. District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards has served for the past few years as the vice-chair, but with her added duties as the chair of the Gila Regional Medical Center Governing Board, it was suggested that she might want to be relieved of the vice chair position, and District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne was elected to be vice chair.

Following the Gila Regional Medical Center update, which can be read in part 2 of this series, Financial Officer Linda Vasquez presented the monthly financial report for Dec. 11, 2020-Jan. 7, 2021.

The total expenditures were $1,948,396.29, which included two payroll periods for $429,096.38. Items costing more than $10,000 each will be shown in the PDF below.

Browne asked about the APIC Solutions Inc. of $29,000, which was paid for with the CARES Act funding.

Webb explained it was for additional surveillance cameras around the clerk's office for the election, and other cameras around the administration center. She explained that the clerk's office does not have free rein to purchase such items. "It must go through procurement code, and I always make sure Randy Villa knows about it. It hasn't been a problem."

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The first item of new business was the Community Development Block Grant witness certification form. "This allows me to sign this form with a witness," Webb said. The item was approved at the regular meeting.

The next item addressed the 2021 Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department annual election of officers for Cliff/Gila, Fort Bayard, Lower Mimbres, Pinos Altos, Santa Rita, Sapillo Creek, Tyrone, Upper Mimbres and Whiskey Creek. Commissioners approved the item at the regular meeting.

Commissioners also approved at the regular meeting the EMS Fund Act Local Funding Program applications and EMS annual service reports for fiscal year 2021 for Gila Regional Medical Center, Gila Regional East (Bayard), Gila Valley, Pinos Altos, Tyrone Districts 1, 2 and 3.

The final item of new business was consideration of a notice of intent to apply for 2021 Colonias funding. Webb explained that if the commissioners intend to apply for 2021 Colonias funding, "this is the open time for the notice of intent. This is your decision on what projects you want to apply for. You need to decide on them now. You know you have some projects that were previously denied. You have some new projects. You need to make your decision today, so we can issue a notice of intent to apply for the projects you want."

Browne asked for a refresher on the Ridge Road project.

Community Development and Planning Director Michael "Mischa" Larisch said: "The Ridge Road project did get funded last year. We got $200,000 for initial design. They have started with the environmental design. We should be able to go out for construction funding by the time funding is available next year. We also had the Silver Acres item for a master design, which we did not get approval on last year. First of all, there are match dollars and we need to know how much you are willing to spend on match dollars. I don't have recommendations, because I don't know if you want to go back for those items that were denied last year, like the Arenas Valley Road design and the Silver Acres master plan. Do we want to do something with the request that has come from Santa Clara? Are there other projects out there that you might have individually? We can put out 20 notices of intent, but when it comes to applications, that's when you have to make the financial commitments by resolution. If we want to get something out there, we need to get it in the notice of intent."

Browne said he is interested in moving forward on the public input meeting's interest in a sewer in Silver Acres or not. "Is that the same master plan we asked for last year?"

"Yes," Larisch said. "We asked for $250,000 for the master plan for infrastructure needs, not just sewer, but perhaps for natural gas, too."

Browne said as a representative of that area, he would be interested in that project.

Ponce asked about the Arenas Valley project.

"The estimated cost would be $197,000 for design, planning and engineering for the entire Arenas Valley Road," Larisch said. "That one, too, was not approved last year."

Ponce said he would like to continue with that project.

Salas asked about the north side of North Hurley Road.

Larisch said that request for $144,000 to finish Phase 3 of the planning and design was also denied last year.

Edwards asked: "So theoretically, we are approving notices of intent for these three projects and anything else we're interested in?"

Larisch replied: "If you want more, I need to know what you are comfortable with on the 10 percent match."

Edwards asked if Fleming Tank Road was something to consider. "If we do a notice of intent, we will be asking for construction funds."

Larisch said that would come in at $850,000 for road construction, but Webb said in some instances, the county can use in kind funding for a match. "Possibly the Road Department could do some of this, but I don't know on this project."

Edwards asked for the notice of intent to be put in.

Larisch said anything else would be up to the commissioners and what they were comfortable with for the 10 percent match, within the budgets.

Edwards asked if a particular landowner had agreed to an easement. Larisch said no, but he could put the notice of intent in and follow up on the easement. Edwards opined that it might be beneficial to have the easement before the notice of intent is put in and that she would follow up.

Ponce asked about sewer for other parts of the county.

Larisch said he could put in a notice of intent for a project requested by Santa Clara, but "we don't have cost estimates yet." Ponce said it might be better for 2022.

Edwards asked Moore if the Road Department could provide in kind services as a match for the road projects, and he replied in the affirmative.

District 4 Commissioner Billy Billings asked Larisch what other projects were on the radar. Larisch said the only other one was the Indian Hills one, "but I would push that one off because we don't know what the city plans for its part. Plus, there needs to be a preliminary engineering report or master plan. My only other thoughts are that we are putting several in design right now, but I'm not committed to them. We have no cost estimates for them because we are so early in the process – for Little Walnut, Ridge Road and the ByPass Road. Those are conceivably ones we could put into notices of intent and go straight into construction, but I would have to push the engineers to get cost estimates. I'm not sure how good a cost estimate I could get."

Billings asked if there were a limit "on what you can apply for?"

Larisch said there is a limit on what "we can apply for. I've heard they expect to have some bigger dollars this year. Even Priscilla (Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director) was shocked. Typically, on the construction end is where there is a need for larger dollar amounts. I think the limit is 10 percent of the entire amount of funds. If they have $20 million, we could apply for $2 million. We always say we can phase things."

Billings asked if there were a reason why some were denied last year.

"We applied for quite a bit last year," Larisch said.

"So, no harm in reapplying then?" Billings asked.

"No," Larisch said.

Ponce said: "If we put in the notices of intent, by the time they come around, we should have an idea of what our budget will be, correct?"

Webb said perhaps not by the time to apply, but by the time to accept, "we will have a pretty good idea how much we can budget for the cash match."

At the regular meeting, the commissioners certified the amended list for the notices of intent to apply to 2021 Colonias funding, including the three items denied last year and the Fleming Tank Road project.

The next article will move into resolutions.

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