[Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of three articles on the Grant County Commission special meeting on Aug. 22, 2023. It will address an agreement and an ordinance.]
By Mary Alice Murphy
The following item on the special meeting agenda of the Grant County Commission on Aug. 22, 2023, addressed an agreement with Tyler Technologies for the annual software purchase SaaS (software as a service) in the amount of $65,752 for the annual agreement.
IT (internet technology) Director Adam Baca said the agreement would move the in-house software, known as enterprise resource planning software, and migrate it to the cloud. “It means essentially that Tyler will house the software, and we will access it via the internet. It’s a very common service now, and I feel it will be a benefit to have Tyler house the services. It is all the software that the treasurer’s office, the clerk’s office, everyone in the county uses.”
District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards asked: “So it’s essentially moving all the software we are managing in house and moving it into the cloud?”
Baca confirmed that.
Browne asked about if a cable got cut, for instance.
Baca said: “We have prepared for that, by utilizing two different internet service providers, in hopes it can avoid that.”
Edwards said she appreciated the redundancy and Baca’s hard work on thinking ahead.
Commissioners approved the agreement.
Next came a couple of resolutions. The first addressed a resolution directing publication of a notice of meeting and intent to adopt bond ordinance O-23-07 in connection with Grant County, New Mexico, general obligations bonds, series 2023.
Mark Valenzuela introduced himself and said he is “with Bosque Advisors, your financial advisor. This is the start of the process for the general obligation bond. The voters approved $8 million and this is the first part of up to $4 million, with $2 million each for the two questions on the approved ballot. It is up to you on how you will use the funding in the first issuance. In September we will talk about the ordinance itself. As you know your 2014 bonds are paying off this year, the last payment. You might ask, why are we not going for a larger amount. We are bounded by the promise not to increase the tax rate. So we will issue $2 to $3 million in order to keep that commitment not to increase the property tax rate. And the other consideration is that interest rates remain elevated in the short term. You’re probably making a lot of money on your investments right now, but from a debt perspective you would be paying that higher interest rate on the full $8 million if you were to issue it right now.”
District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce clarified: “So what we are voting on today is to put out the announcement of the meeting and hearing on the ordinance.”
District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne said it sounded kind of vague on how much “we are going to issue this time.”
Valenzuela said it depends on the readiness of projects. “It looks like a little over $2 million of transportation projects are ready to go.”
County Manager Charlene Webb said: “We have been unable to find funding for the Hamilton Bridge project, so this seemed like the logical place to go. We are working on the engineering and are ready to go, but we don’t have the money. We are also working on facility needs, but they aren’t ready yet. I will have the list ready when we discuss the ordinance, but right now, the bond needs to be for transportation. We have plenty of needs, but we’re waiting until they are ready before we sell bonds to fund them. That bridge and other bridges need significant repairs. Jason (Lockett, grounds and facilities maintenance supervisor) will have estimates and designs for facilities improvements.”
Browne asked if the county planned to sell just the amount needed for the projects or might the ordinance give authority to go up to the $4 million.
Valenzuela deflected to Luis Carrasco of Rodey Law firm, county bond counsel, to answer.
Carrasco said: “We have a month out for whatever maximum you want to put on the ordinance. I expect it will be up to $4 million and that would be the maximum you could issue. If we get to $4 million, and we need more, it would require another ordinance, for example for another $4 million up to the total $8 million.”
Browne asked if there were a downside to approve the $8 million and trust the manager to issue whatever is required.
Carrasco said the only downside would be the cost of issuance, which might increase with the increase in the number of issuances.
Browne noted he appreciated the answer, but his question was if there were any downside to approving the full $8 million at once, but only issuing it when needed so as not to raise the mil levy.
Carrasco said there was no downside if it includes the authority and the stipulation not to exceed the tax rate for residents by not issuing the amount at high interest rates. “You do have four years after the authorization of the bond by the voters to do the issuance.”
Valenzuela said it’s partly a question about the length of the bond ordinance and the possibility of multiple issuances. “The reason we chose the $4 million is to give you and the county manager the flexibility to do the transportation and facility improvements. The financial situation is not raising the tax rate. That’s why we suggested the $4 million at this time and then we would come back in a year or two for the rest of it. But what is the legal life of an ordinance and the possibility of making multiple issuances out of the same ordinance?”
Carrasco said: “In answer to the second question, you can do multiple issuances. The first part is when you are using the authorization portion, that’s only good for 120 days. If it were beyond the 120 days, we would have to come back for authorization for any amount to proceed forward, so there is a limited time on that ordinance.”
Edwards asked: “Setting aside the 120 days of authorization, what about selling the pieces? Would that lock in the interest rate for the whole $8 million or just as the pieces are sold?”
Valenzuela said the interest rate would lock in when the piece is sold. “If rates go down, you could get out from under the higher rate.”
Commissioners approved the resolution as presented.
The final article will include the discussion around the second ordinance and commissioner reports.
To read the prior article, please visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/80076-grant-county-commission-holds-special-meeting-082223