AUGUST 9, 2005

 Commissioners Butler, Evans, McCamley, and Saldaņa-Caviness were present, Commissioner Curry was absent.

 During public input Jardin de los Niņos made a plea for emergency financial support.  They get support from multiple sources and a confluence of circumstances has put them in a temporary bind.  The Commission agreed on the need for the program and asked staff to work with Jardin in finding some funding.

 Also Leon Billstone requested that fireworks be first on the agenda for the next joint city-county meeting, and Vince Chavez requested that the commission act against more billboards in the county.

 A presentation was made by Silvia Sierra, Director, Health and Human Services and Michael Ward, a graduate student from Harvard, on the Juntos por Cambio: The Future of Healthcare in Doņa Ana County forum that was recently held here.  The forum was successful in bringing together major healthcare players in the area and hearing concerns from the public.  As a result Mr. Ward asked the commission for support in doing a research thesis on healthcare in Doņa Ana County.  He held out the possibility that we could become a national model for positive programs.  The commission agreed to support his efforts, although it was hazy what that support would consist of.

 A consent agenda of 18 varied items was passed.  One of the items pulled for discussion was annexation by the city of the property where the new county complex is being built.  It was concluded that legally the courthouse must be in the county seat, and hence the site should be annexed into the city.  During construction it was advantageous to the county for the site not be annexed because of a tax saving.

 Proposed amendments to the county's land use regulations and zoning ordinance were passed after a discussion of the meaning of the county's Comprehensive Plan.  There were concerns about the authority of the Plan when dealing with ordinances.  Commissioner Butler emphasized that the ordinances are to enhance the Plan.

 Approval was given to the county manager to cancel the existing employee benefits contracts and put the county on the state's employee benefit plan.  This move had been considered previously but the monetary buy-in at the time was prohibitively expensive.  That buy-in requirement has been dropped and the county will now see a saving while at the same time providing a saving to the employees.

 Other business included approvals of a new schedule of fees for the land use regulations and zoning ordinance, and implementation of an 'Adopt-a-Median/Roadside Permitting Program' for county-owned rights of way.

Charlie Welch

Southern NM Common Cause