APRIL 11, 2006

 Commissioners Butler, Curry, Evans, McCamley, and Saldana-Caviness were present.

 The Commission has started a new program to recognize volunteers in the community.  Manny and Christine Garcia are the first to be so recognized and they received a certificate of appreciation for their work in south central Dona Ana County.

 April 9-15 was proclaimed Public Safety Telecommunications week by Chairwoman Saldana-Caviness.  Communicators were recognized for their critical role in getting help to where it's needed.

 Annette West and Steve Newby of Las Cruces Downtown presented a study on the eastern-most county property between Amador and Lohman.  They feel the property is valuable to a re-vitalized downtown and the Commission is looking for viable proposals for disposing of it.

 Thomas Hassell, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Las Cruces, aka Dona Ana County Housing Authority, made a presentation on the Authority.  He emphasized the rent subsidy and conventional housing programs but mentioned a couple of other options.  This was followed by a presentation by Commissioner McCamley on the seriousness of the problem of affordable housing in the area.  There's an interesting interplay between the increasing value of land, the minimum allowable plot size, and the minimum cost of a house that can be built on that plot.

 Fire Marshal Paul Chavez, Chairman of the Board of MVRDA (Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority), made a presentation on the Authority which has been criticized recently by Sheriff Garrison for inadequate dispatching of his deputies.  Hugo Costa, Director of MVRDA, discussed the shortage of personnel for the number of calls handled by MVRDA.  He said there was not enough budget to properly staff the operation.  John Zimmerman asked about a recent $90K cut in their budget and County Manager Hanes admitted that there had been a $90K cut in 2002 or 2003 plus another cut of $26K in 2004/05 followed by a city cut.  Fire Marshal Chavez was asked to bring back to the Commission a plan for fixing the problems.

 One item on the consent agenda was renewal of a two-year lease for a building to store voting machines.  This item was pulled for discussion when a local businessman offered another building for less money.  Then a second businessman offered another building and the Commission agreed to renew the current lease on a month to month basis while considering the new proposals.  Following this a consent agenda of 11 varied items was approved.

 Following adjournment the Commission was re-convened for a special meeting to consider approval of a bid of $293K from The Greenhouse, Inc. for renovations to the Delores Wright Memorial Park in Chaparral.  When asked whether these renovations were related to problems with the original construction County Attorney Caldwell said they were.  This item was approved.

Charlie Welch

Southern NM Common Cause