By Lynn Janes
Before the meeting started a work session took place to address M and M Auto. Mayor Chon Fierro called the session to order and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Also, in attendance Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva and councilors Jose Diaz and Frances Gonzales. Eloy Medina did not attend.
The board approved the agenda for the meeting.
A resident of the area addressed the council concerning M and M auto. He said this business is not an auto repair shop. It consists of all junk cars, and the license should not be renewed. He said it has been a constant problem and residents come to the meetings over and over trying to address the problems and nothing happens.
Mrs. Valenzuela said they had been trying to fix everything that the town asked but the process takes time. She said they had the business for years and have been trying. Her son told the council they had been in business since 1942 and it makes them grandfathered in. He said he had worked there his whole life. Many of the cars there are from customers that can't pay so by law he said he has to keep them.
The discussion started between the owners and the residents. Diaz asked them to address the mayor and council not each other.
Another resident addressed the council and asked that the business license be denied. He said the business had just junk everywhere.
Mr. Martinez stood up and assured the council that all the chemicals are put in barrels and not poured everywhere. He said he works for them sometimes and they have been good to him.
Steve Potts said he had called 911 a few months before to report two people breaking into his neighbor's house. He went on to give the full story. A police officer came and caught the people and held them at gun point for five minutes until another officer got there. He said he had been subpoenaed three times now and still nothing has happened. The prosecutor never lets anyone know when a hearing has been canceled or changed. Meanwhile the two perpetrators are running around free to do more breaking and entering. He said: "We have a hard enough time getting police officers here and then they don't get the respect they deserve. The court has no respect. The criminals know they will not be prosecuted." He said he does not know how a police officer can do his job. "We have a breakdown in our justice system." Diaz pointed out that this part of the meeting had been pertaining to issues with M and M Auto and this needed to be brought up in the regular meeting.
The council went into closed session to discuss the M and M Auto licensing.
They returned from closed session and Diaz asked the code enforcement officer to answer a few questions. He asked him what violations he had cited them for and how many times. He said two and it had been for vehicles on the street. He said he had seen improvement. He also added his supervisor had told him not to go anymore.
The town of Bayard held a regular town meeting July 25, 2022. The meeting started with Mayor Chon Fierro calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included Mayor Chon Fierro, Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva and councilors Jose Diaz and Frances Gonzales. Eloy Medina did not attend.
The council approved the agenda with changes. The council tabled the item pertaining to the budget but later put it back on. The council also tabled two items concerning personnel that needed to have an executive session so that would be addressed at the next board meeting.
Mr. Potts continued his concern. He said he felt bad for his neighbor, community, and police. He said the police must be frustrated when they put their life on the line and people are not prosecuted. They told him to contact the district attorney with his concerns, as the town could not do anything about the issue. Diaz said: "We have a new chief and some more officers starting soon and have been doing what we can." Villanueva asked if the neighbor had contacted the district attorney. The issue is not something the council can do anything about, but he would look into it.
A representative with the beautification committee invited the council to Bingo July 31, 2022, 5-7 pm at the Community Center.
The council approved the consent agenda. It included regular meeting minutes for July 11, 2022, accounts payable report for July 25, 2022, police report for June 2022. It also included administrative staff, mayor, and council to attend NMML (New Mexico Municipal League) annual conference, Judy Ortiz attending online class for managing police records ($259), valve training for Anthony Aveles and Adrian Badillo and resignation of Anthony Aveles as of July 25, 2022.
The council approved Tina Forgas to become a member of the housing authority board. Forgas resides in Santa Clara, but the housing authority has combined communities.
Ken Hughes with Sustainable Communities gave the board a presentation starting with a brief description of his background. The organization has involvement in electric car charging stations, solar energy, heat pumps, mini splits for heating and cooling, plus many others. He said currently Congress has money available for these projects and capital outlay can be used. He said to join would be $1,000 a year for voting rights but it would not be necessary. Fierro asked if these projects would require matching funds. Hughes said some do and some don't.
Gonzales said they should look at a charging station for electric cars. Currently Silver City has the only one in the area. She thought some of the projects might save the residents money. She said when she lived in Phoenix, she paid $300 - $400 a month for cooling. After they put in solar her bill went down to $125 - $160 a month. Hughes pointed out solar had now gone down considerably. Gonzales asked them to put the issue on the agenda next month to talk about and they agreed.
The council tabled the approval of Gary Arellano to be the training officer for the volunteer fire department due to the fire chief not being present to answer questions.
The council approved the June 30, 2022, financial report and budget adjustment.
The council tabled the next item concerning the approval of the fiscal year 2023 budget. In part due to Judge Jose Sandoval not being present to discuss the municipal court effect on the budget.
The council approved the addition to the uniform policy that addressed special events.
The council disapproved the business license for M and M Auto. Diaz added when they comply with all the changes and have been approved by the fire marshal, EPA, code enforcement and police, the licensing can be revisited.
The next item concerned an increase in the utility and wastewater bills in the amount of $12 - $15 a month. They had a lot of discussion. No one wanted to do the increase. Diaz tried to explain why they had to. It had been four years since the residents had seen any increase and without this the city would be at a $500,000 deficit. No one else would vote for it and the motion died.
The council tabled the adoption of the fiscal 2023-year budget.
The next items concerned personnel matters and needed a closed session that had not been put on the agenda. The council tabled the items until next meeting.
The council approved the $ .25 raises for Marlena Valenzuela, Tanya Ortiz, and Michelle Holguin for completing procurement officer certification.
Diaz had a question before they went forward with the mayor and councilor reports. He questioned what would happen if they did not approve the 2023 fiscal budget. He reflected on what Kristina Ortiz, city clerk had said. She had told them they had to ask any questions they had at the past budget meeting because she would not be at this meeting and the budget had to be turned in by the coming Friday. Diaz asked Tanya Ortiz, utility clerk, what would happen. She said they would have a problem on the audit and lose all the current monies for projects. The $1-$2 million would be gone for the wastewater treatment plant.
Villanueva said they really didn't want to raise the utilities and knew so many residents would be hurt but it seems they don't have a choice. Diaz said they tried really hard to be creative to figure out ways not to raise the utilities rates.
A resident said she understood their problem but why had these residents not been here to let the council know they would have problems if utilities increased. Another resident said they had to pay out a lot in prescriptions monthly and it would be a hardship.
Diaz said they had been applying for low income help for the residents and it will be coming through soon. He said the beautification committee had volunteered to help people on the computer to apply for the funds.
Villanueva said they had an impactful budget across the board. They had worked hard to figure out the budget and had a lot of back-and-forth discussions and ideas.
The council decided they had no other choice but to go back on the tabled budget and increase in utilities. The council approved the fiscal year 2023 budget and approved the increase in the Bayard utilities and wastewater.
Villanueva said this had been a tough choice for the council. He said they would do what they could to help with the low-income programs available.
Mayor and councilors reports
Villanueva encouraged everyone to attend the Cobre Schools Summerfest on July 30, 2022. He said he hoped it would be a big success.
Diaz said he hated to do the increase. He hopes to see everyone at the Summerfest.
Gonzales said they would be doing voter registration at the Summerfest. She also let everyone know the governor and lieutenant governor would be in Grant County Wednesday and Thursday.
Jason Jaeger told the council he needed to talk to them after the meeting.
Tanya Ortiz said she had been multitasking with Kristina Ortiz on vacation.
Fierro said Villanueva has said everything he wanted to.
The next regular meeting will be held August 8, 2022