By Lynn Janes

The town of Bayard held a work session May 8, 2023. The work session started with Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included councilors Frances Gonzales, Jose Diaz, and Eloy Medina. Mayor Chon Fierro didn't attend.

The work session gives the council an opportunity to ask questions about anything on the agenda.

Diaz questioned a fee of $2,000 to Lopez and Associates. Marlena Valenzuela, city clerk, explained some of the reasons for the calls that resulted in the charges. Diaz suggested that maybe some of these the council could discuss first and possibly save some of those fees.

Gonzales asked about the monthly police report and if they had it. She also wanted to know what shifts the captain and lieutenant had been covering. Chief Hector Carrillo said they switch off every two months working until midnight. Gonzales said she had an incident at 3 am with people trying to break into her home. She set off her alarm and let her pit bull out. She said she knew if she called 911 no one would be available. She said, "I am worried about other residents that don't have my resources." Carrillo said, "I am glad you are ok, and nothing happened." He told her to call 911 anyway.

Diaz said the monthly police report had not been in the packet and Valenzuela said she had included it. He said they need to change the schedule to have the officers on longer. He questioned how long the uncertified officers could be alone. Carrillo said six hours. One will be going to training on July 17, 2023.

Villanueva said he had received calls about people concerned about the lack of police and said other council members had gotten calls also. Carrillo said he has been trying to work around covering as much as they can with the officers they have. Medina said this must be a priority. When the sheriffs go off duty that leaves just one state police officer and that will not be enough. "We need to cover it somehow." Diaz got on Medina and Valenzuela because they have a platform to help with this. Medina said salaries have been a big problem and they have been losing officers. He said they have been doing what they can and looking at this across the board. Diaz said they needed to come up with a plan. He acknowledged the chief has been down two officers. Medina said he has two coming in from other local departments. Villanueva said they had gotten calls and just wanted to bring those concerns to him and ask he do his best.

George Esqueda with Stantec had an update on the current and upcoming projects. He told them about their contract for general services would be expiring soon.

They have been coordinating with PNM and Comcast for the moving of poles to do the sidewalks and have them ADA compliant. The city still had a few small easements to acquire to give them the right-of-way. Those easements would only be about 20-27 square feet. He said the RFP (request for proposal) would be going out soon and the project would take only 45-60 days.

The wastewater project has been ongoing. Morrow Construction has been working on it. They must go every week and do employee interviews to make sure they have been paid the required amount. This must be done because federal dollars have been used for the project.

The lighting project closed out in August of 2022

The repairs to the public safety building have continued. Part of the reason for the delay had been obtaining the materials needed and they also can't work if there will be rain or any wind.

The project for North Foy Street will go out for RFP soon and construction will start in July. The city had a shortfall on funding for the project but currently has been working to get the rest needed.

The replacement of the water storage tank will be held off until the fall because of possible water shortage that could happen in the summer. The RFP will go out in June.

The 2023 colonias funding request for a chlorinator in the amount of $509,000 with a 10 percent match ($46,290) from the city has been presented and on May 24, 2023, they will announce the funding.

Diaz asked about the gravity sewer main and where would it be located. Esqueda said it would be on city property and not on private property.

The town of Bayard held a regular May 8, 2023. The meeting started with Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included councilors Frances Gonzales, Jose Diaz, and Eloy Medina. Mayor Chon Fierro didn't attend. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to New Mexico flag took place.

The council approved the agenda with some changes. Diaz had suggested they postpone the closed session due to the Mayor not being in attendance and at the time Diaz spoke to him he didn't know anything on the matter.

The council approved the consent agenda. It consisted of the minutes for the meeting April 11, 2023, and special meeting April 27, 2023. It also included accounts payable report May 8, 2023, police report for March, and April report for the fire department, maintenance, wastewater, library, and municipal court.

Old business

Villanueva didn't have an update for Selina Crespin for the industrial site located on East Street. He knew the mayor and Carrillo had been working on it. He turned it over to Carrillo. He said the owner didn't know he owned the property and had been happy to address the issue. He said he would get a survey and take care of it. The part with the cement he doesn't know if it would be included, and that part is the reason for the survey and again he said he would take care of it.

James Ervin said he saw the letters of interest on the agenda. "I am happy to see this being done and appreciate the ad in the paper." Diaz said the mayor would appoint someone from the council to be a liaison and support. Ervin asked if a zoning officer would be appointed. It would be a lot of responsibility and require the knowledge to do the job. He cited some of those jobs and responsibilities. Diaz said they would do what they needed to get it running. Ervin said they would have a lot of catch up to do since it had not been done in so many years. Diaz said they would have to look at their budget to see if they could hire a zoning officer.

Carrillo interjected that he had requested the possibility of hiring another person for code enforcement and animal control part time.

Ervin asked when a zoning officer would be hired. Diaz said they had to look at the budget and it would be a process.

George Esqueda with Stantec had already given an update during the work session. He added that they had some agreements that needed to be signed but they had the mayor's name. He said he could have them redone and bring them in the morning for Villanueva to sign. They decided Fierro could sign at the special meeting coming up on Thursday.

New business

The council postponed the change in phone service after some discussion. Valenzuela said they could save approximately $300 a month changing from Lumen to WNM Communications. Since WNM Communications would be internet based they would not change the police or fire. Also, WNM Communications did not offer a fax service. She said it would be a better up-to-date service than they have currently. Sonya Dixon, librarian, asked if they could continue to have a personal message for their machine and Valenzuela said yes. The council asked for a little more information on how that would affect the Lumen bill and would it still be a savings. Valenzuela will gather the additional information for the council.

The council postponed the consideration of Jenny Castanon, assistant librarian, to be a parttime grant writer for the city of Bayard. Valenzuela said she had been able to bring in a lot of grants for the library and she could help the city with grants. It would take her to fulltime instead of her current parttime work at the library. Castanon talked to the council and told them about the grants she had gotten and that she would like to do it for the city. Diaz said they didn't have this in the budget and would have to look into it. He asked her to come back to the board with a specific job description, supervisors, compensation, etc. Gonzales said as crazy as it sounds: "help us write a grant for a grant writer. It would be an asset to the city." Diaz asked her to work with Valenzuela and Dixon and bring the council a proposal.

The council postponed the sale of a piece of land near 101 North Street until they had further information on the process. Valenzuela said this property had been purchased by the city some time ago for an easement and cost of $10,000. The people wanting to purchase a portion of it have property next to it and want to extend their fence for their dog and have a place to park their camp trailer. They have offered $1,000 for part of the area. They talked about the need for a survey and who would pay for that. Medina said you can't ask them to pay for the survey, the city would have to pay.

The council approved to contract with Martha Salas to assist the city of Bayard with financials and current grants and projects for an eight-hour week and to work hour-for-hour. Valenzuela said she had asked for $60 and hour and has CPA certification. It would only be a part-time position. She currently holds the position of chief financial officer in Lordsburg and used to work for Hurley as clerk. Questions came up about the budget and how many hours she would have to work. Valenzuela suggested they put a cap on it. Diaz suggested the use of the Department of Finance for the state and ask for assistance. He had seen other municipalities do this. Dixon interjected she had seen this as a problem in the past because they can only work after hours and weekends, so someone must come in. "Salas does know what she is doing." Medina said they had to have a cap on it, and she had to be hour-for-hour. Several said they had to raise the wage for the clerk to get someone in. Gonzales said she had asked around and they had to raise that wage. Diaz asked how soon she could start working because they needed her soon.

The council postponed the approval of hiring an attorney for the police department. Carrillo said they need an attorney from time to time. Most of the cases happen in the magistrate court and those people involved usually have a public defender. The city attorney is the public defender and can't help due to a conflict of interest. The officers have been going up against defense attorneys without any representation resulting in losses. Carrillo pointed out that Silver City police contract on a case-by-case basis and provide a monthly stipend to an attorney. Villanueva said they could use the district attorney for those cases. Carrillo said they are short on attorneys and will not work with them unless the case exceeds a misdemeanor. Gonzales asked him who he had in mind. Carrillo said he had talked to Mathew Bradford, the one Silver City police use. They discussed the possible need to go out for bid on the contract and Diaz said only if it exceeded $50,000. Villanueva asked for a proposal from the attorney. Gonzales asked for him to come to the meeting so they could meet him and ask questions. She also wanted to know if he had been part of the $10 million lawsuit the city recently lost.

Boards and committees

The council approved the letters of interest for the planning and zoning board. They included Mathew Chavez, James Ervin, Doug Newman, and Betty Lambert. They will be doing an ad because they need one more person.

Ordinances and resolutions

The council approved two resolutions 5-2023 for matching funds and 6-2023 for Fahey and Lusk design. Esqueda had talked to them about in the work session.

Action for personnel

After some discussion the council approved an 8 percent raise for Chief Carrillo and a 5 percent raise for Captain Anthony Macias and Lieutenant Manuel Galaz. All had completed their probationary period. Gonzales originally suggested a $1 an hour raise for all. They discussed giving raises to the officers using the 6th position in the police department budget to afford it. Carrillo said he had not been aware that the 6th position had been taken off the table. Diaz said he had looked, and they had the funds to give the 8 percent and 5 percent raise. Medina expressed concern about the budget. Diaz said, "We need to make public safety a priority." These raises will cost the city approximately $10,000 a year.

The council approved the resignation letter from Adrian Badillo.

The council approved the resignation letter from Marlena Valenzuela. Diaz said he didn't want to but understood. Medina said he had a long conversation with Valenzuela and asked if they could put anything on the table to have her stay. She said no. Villanueva thanked her for stepping up but understood family came first.

Mayor and councilors reports

Diaz said he didn't have anything but to thank the staff for all their great work. He asked Michael Paez, public works department, when the light on Central Avenue would be fixed. They had been waiting on the quotes. Easter weekend someone ran into the pole and now it needs repair.

Gonzales wanted to announce the NMFA (New Mexico Finance Authority) meeting May 18, 2023. Recently she had talked to the business department at WNMU to recruit graduates. She added they had to pay the clerk's position more money to attract and retain someone.

Dixon wanted to know if they needed to have a meeting before the community event with the foam machine happening in June. The council told her to get with Paez and make a plan and it should be fine. She said she needed to have the police and staff on board. Villanueva asked her to bring an update to the next meeting.

Robert Terrazas. wastewater director, said he didn't have anything to report currently.

Paez said Esqueda had gone over everything, but he did want the council to know that the new schedule they started had been working really well and getting more work done.

Carrillo thanked the council for the wage increases. He added that Gonzales had reported a crime during the session, and they would be addressing it.

Valenzuela said she had just been working with a lot of numbers because of the budget for the next fiscal year. They would be having a budget meeting on May 22, 2023 at 5 pm.

Villanueva thanked the staff for all they do.

Special meeting will be May 11, 2023, at 5 pm

The next regular meeting and budget work session will be May 22, 2023

Meeting adjourned.

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