By Lynn Janes
The town of Bayard held a work session February 27, 2023. The work session started with Mayor Chon Fierro calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva councilors Jose Diaz, Eloy Medina, and Frances Gonzales.
The work session gives the council an opportunity to ask questions about anything on the agenda.
Diaz thanked the chief for his detailed report and especially appreciated the information on mileage and costs.
Larry Ojinaga had asked to be on the agenda concerning the new vacant building ordinance. Marlena Valenzuela, city clerk, said she had used Santa Clara's to draft theirs. They will still need to have public hearings regarding the ordinance. Villanueva said he had read it and liked it. The council had some suggestions about the wording, and all agreed it needed to be fine-tuned. Diaz pointed out how would they push it and follow it. "We have to have a process in place." He added that the city did have cleanup to do. Valenzuela said the mayor, code enforcement and she had met with Sheila Hudman, Santa Clara village administrator, and she had told them she would come and talk to the council once they could move forward. Currently Hudman has been working with Hurley on the same thing. Valenzuela said they go through city hall and not the court system. Diaz suggested a sub committee be formed before it comes to the council for approval. Fierro said they would put it on the next agenda.
Valenzuela updated the council on the sidewalk project. The design had been finished and they have DOT (Department of Transportation) certification. PNM will be relocating some poles at their expense. "The project is right on track to go out for bid this summer."
They discussed the supporting of the new vocational workforce center proposed. It would be located between Bayard and Hurley across from the cemetery. Gonzales wanted to know how much money Bayard had to pay. Fierro said nothing, WNMU would be seeking the funding. They have asked the legislature for $15 million.
In the agenda the council has a resolution to approve or disapprove for Colonias Infrastructure Fund-financed improvements to the Bayard city water system. Valenzuela said they wanted to ask for $1.5 million but do not have enough for the cash match. They did ask for $250,000 for a new chlorination system and have the cash match for it. It is also a needed system.
Fierro said a position for wastewater laborer has been open. They received 2 applications and only one responded when called for the interview.
Next for public input a memorandum will be read letting people know they will only have five minutes and the council would not be responding. Fierro said he has responded in the past but will not any longer. If someone wants discussion, they will have to be put on the agenda. The council discussed if they would have to give a reason for being on the agenda. Diaz commented that a lot of the questions residents have had could be answered by the city clerk and staff so they could save a trip. Selina Crespin said, "I am upset over being told I didn't need to be on the agenda." Fierro said because of the mix up she could be put on this agenda.
The town of Bayard held a regular town meeting February 27, 2023. The meeting started with Mayor Chon Fierro calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva councilors Jose Diaz, Eloy Medina, and Frances Gonzales. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to New Mexico flag took place.
The council approved the agenda with the addition of Selina Crespin under old business.
Fierro made the announcement that each person for public input would be allotted five minutes and the council would not be responding.
James Irving, a member of the beautification committee, addressed the council. "I am confused about the budget for the beautification committee." They have had discrepancies and need some verification. Valenzuela said they had gone over it but told Irving to come by the office the next day. Irving said they all needed to know and the public. "It is about stewardship of the money, transparency, we need a process so there is no confusion." Valenzuela said she would attend their next meeting.
Police Chief Hector Carrillo wanted to let the council know of a problem he has been having. Code enforcement / animal control is trying to do their job and issue citations. An incident occurred on Winifred Street; the sewer backed up. The owners and renters had been cited for it. The municipal judge had combined them into one case, and it had been heard improperly. One case had been heard the proper way in that each side of the case presented their side. The second one the judge heard the owner's side only and dismissed the case. Carrillo said, "We did not get due process." The backup had cost the city money and code enforcement had been trying to recover that cost with the citations. Carrillo said he wanted an explanation from the judge. This had been the third complaint about dismissals in four months. Carrillo said he has sent a complaint to the judiciary standard committee in Albuquerque. "I want to hold the judge accountable."
Judge Jose Sandoval said he had not combined the cases. Both cases had been on the docket separately. He had heard both sides concerning the tenant and neighbors, all involved to make the decision. Sandoval asked the city if the problem had been remedied and they had said yes. Tenant had caused the problem. Then the owner had been heard and since the problem had been remedied, that had been the reason for dismissal. "The tenant had been cited and there would be nothing to be gained." The problem had been caused by the tenant and not the landowner. "I take issue with what the chief is saying. He is free to file against me."
The council approved the consent agenda which included several items: Minutes from the February 13, 2023, meeting, accounts payable report February 27, 2023, police report for November, December and January and code enforcement / animal control report for October, November, December, and January. The consent agenda also included Joe Sierra attending NMRWA (New Mexico Rural Water Association) conference in Albuquerque and Michael Paez attending floodplain management in Farmington.
Larry Ojinaga had been discussed during the work session and Valenzuela had brought him and the council up to date.
Selina Crespin addressed the council with her concern. She had received a certified letter about the possible zoning change at 504 Virginia from residential to industrial to accommodate a solar farm. It said the public had been invited. The meeting didn't happen, and I asked to be on this agenda and had been told I didn't need to be. "I am confused, this is my life, my home. Things are going to change, and I want to know why." She talked about the confusion of the whole thing, one being that no one had signed the letter. "If I am going to get a certified letter for the meeting, shouldn't I also get a certified letter telling me it was canceled?" Tanya Ortiz, deputy clerk, said she had called everyone personally but had not called Crespin because she had talked to her at the beautification committee meeting. Crespin said, "This was not done properly, It is not fair for me to have to worry about it."
Diaz said this would be another learning experience. He looked at the letter and it did not have any signatures but had been very detailed. Valenzuela said nine letters had been sent out to the people around the property that the proposed solar farm would go on. Anyone within one hundred feet must be contacted by certified mail. Diaz pointed out that this would impact everyone in Bayard, and all should know and should have gotten a letter. "I stand opposed to this company." Fierro said it had been his fault the letters had not been signed. Medina and Diaz both said they had let the woman from Ameresco know they had to have a public input meeting. Ortiz said the town ordinance requires a 20 day notice and the representative from Ameresco would not comply and would not return calls. Diaz said, "It is their project, they need to do the work." Medina said this should apply to any company.
The council approved a letter of support for the funding of a vocational workforce center. Fierro said they would not have to supply any funding. This will be a good thing for the mining district. The council had been given a draft of the letter. Gonzales asked that in the title it just says Dear Governor and should say Honorable.
The council approved Virginia Lozano to give defensive driving classes to all city employees at a cost of $65 per employee.
Ordinances and resolutions
The council voted to put the adoption of an ordinance concerning neglected and vacant properties off until the next agenda. They will be appointing a subcommittee to work on the ordinance.
The council approved resolution 2-2023 for the 2023 Colonias Infrastructure Fund application for improvements to the Bayard water system.
The council approved resolution 3-2023 for the September 30, 2022, financial statements, and budget adjustments.
Action for personnel
The council approved the hiring of Robert Ruiz for wastewater laborer at a rate of $15.75 an hour upon completion of all pre-employment exams and background checks
Department head reports.
Supervisor Michael Paez, public works, said the contractors had been supposed to start on the public safety building but had not. Their truck had broken. Fierro said these people always have excuses. He said he's been calling SW Concrete weekly concerning the potholes they have been contracted to fix and they always have excuses.
Hector Carrillo, police chief, said he does not have any personal problem with the judge, but just wants the process to be done correctly. He has sent him links to municipal and judicial procedures but has not gotten a response. "I stand for the department, city, and residents. When something is not done right, I have to bring it up." He has been teaching code enforcement / animal control how to prosecute and be successful in court and these things have made it frustrating.
Carrillo thanked the office for getting them grants. They have been able to get a state-of-the-art program called TraX. It will be a huge improvement for the department. The Silver City police, and state police have the software also. The systems will run in the police car and have Wi-Fi. It will generate reports, scan, and print. It can all be done from the car and the officer does not have to come into the office thereby saving a lot of time. He had the program on the computer to show the council all the features. Carrillo said he is also able to access all the information. Some residents that attended the meeting had a number of questions and he answered them.
Carrillo wanted to let the council know that the Sheriffs Department had only had to respond to fifty calls which in the past had been over one hundred in a month. He said he has advertised for another position for a certified officer.
Euphemio Gonzales, fire chief, asked about the roof and when it would be fixed.
Medina said he had concern with the judicial system, and he saw he had been doing a good job and saw his frustration. This comment referenced Carrillo's statement.
Gonzales said she agreed with Medina and was glad he had sent the letter. She addressed the library and the need for a report. Shortly they would be doing work on the garden and funding would be spent.
Diaz said "We learn every day and make mistakes, but we are all in it for the right reason. We would not go with any company unless we have the full detail."
Diaz said "The government can't tell the judicial side what to do. The judge said he is not a money maker, but we are not a bank." He told everyone to remember that an election would be in November. The sewer backup on Winifred cost the city $1,500-$1,800 and that money would be owed to the city of Bayard by the owner. "We sit in the position of authority, and we can shut off that water. She is the owner and needs to pay. I stand for the residents." Diaz pointed out the owner does not reside in Bayard.
Valenzuela said she had called the judge after he had dismissed that case. "He laughed at me." He responded, "I told them I am not a money maker."
Fierro said he had called the judge about the problems. "He is an elected official, and we can't do anything." Fierro pointed out they had cut his budget.
Residents in attendance had an open discussion about the judge and what they could do.
Valenzuela and Gonzales met with Gabe Vasquez, US house of representatives, and talked about the wastewater plant and he will see what he can do. Fierro said it needed to be done soon and Gonzales said they had already started because she had been contacted by his representatives wanting information to move forward.
Fierro said he had met with Paez concerning the city park. They have had complaints for years about not having enough lighting. They will be using some of the poles that had been replaced on the highway 356 project and use them to increase the lighting. He said he hoped to have that done as soon as possible. Fierro asked the police chief to start patrolling that area more when little league starts. They have already had some vandalism with the bleachers.
Fierro thanked all the ladies in the office for doing a great job.
Next meeting will be held March 13, 2023