NOVEMBER 8, 2005

Commissioners Curry, Evans, McCamley, and Saldana-Caviness were physically present, Commissioner Butler by phone.

 Majors Cheryl Roach and Chris Barela of the Doņa Ana County Detention Center gave a presentation on its operations.  This is a more extensive operation than most people would think, including having their own medical physician.  Tours for the public can be arranged by calling the center.

 A varied consent agenda of 11 items was passed.  Issues included acceptance of grants, approval of travel, award of bids, and indigent hospital claims.

 Two increases in our gross receipts tax were approved, both for 1/16th percent.  One is called 'The County Correctional Facility Gross Receipts Tax' and the other 'The One-Sixteenth Increment of the County Gross Receipts Tax'.  Concern was expressed that one of the increases be designated for the sheriff's office to help in retaining and recruiting deputies.  Since state law prohibits designation of a tax for this purpose (even though it allows doing so for the correctional facility), the Commission directed staff to draw up a plan for using the 2nd increase for the sheriff's and fire departments.  These increases will go into effect on July 1, 2006 and the county will start seeing the money 2 months later.

 After considerable discussion the Commission reversed a decision by the Doņa Ana County Planning and Zoning Commission that had denied a variance to road access standards and parking lot surface requirements for the renovated Radium Springs Hotel and Hot Springs.  The main issue is access to the hotel for emergency services such as fire and ambulance.  The owners agreed to advise all customers of the less than ideal safety situation.  Chairman McCamley stressed that this decision to approve the variance was based on the very unique situation of the historic hotel and does not represent a precedent for issuance of variances to safety requirements.

 Resolutions were passed seeking funding for spaceport infrastructure and supporting an upcoming environmental issues summit that will deal with quality of life in underserved rural and colonias communities.

 Following this meeting was a work session with Gus Cordova, executive director of the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMAC), regarding their legislative priorities.  The 1st is to get relief for the state's underfunded mandate that the counties house certain state prisoners.  NMAC feels that this burden is having a serious impact on the counties' abilities to properly serve their citizens.

 Five other priorities were articulated, one of which involves distributions from the State Fire Protection Fund.  This fund was created by the legislature a few years ago to use for improving fire protection in our cities and counties.  A portion of your residential insurance premium is set aside annually for this fund.  However a large portion of the fund goes to the state General Fund rather than to fire departments as originally intended.  NMAC has a goal of full distribution of the funds for the original purpose.

Charlie Welch

Southern NM Common Cause