The KCEC Regional Command Center: Read the File!

By: Bill Whaley
6 August, 2013

Last night I skimmed the file on the proposed Command Center. Here are the questions raised by the community and the commissioners who oppose the project. The record of decision belies claims made by politicians and executives. The record should be required reading for officials involved in decision-making.

No. 1. The legislature—and Department of Finance Administration (DFA) assigned the original legislative grant of $175,000 for design services to the Town of Taos. The town turned the money over to KCEC in what “appears” to raise questions about violations of the anti-donation clause. Was procurement followed?

No. 2. Now the Department of Finance and Administration is considering a grant of some $400,000 for further E911—Dispatch services in public money to pass through the town into the assets of a private corporation, which aims at charging the public for its services in a building owned by the members of the Coop, who are also local taxpayers. Paying twice for the building and twice with public grants raises the issue of violating the anti-donation clause twice.

No. 3. The reported levels of asbestos are so negligible—considered non-friable (not free to contaminate)—according to the environmental researchers, hired by the town, in the current facility on Civic Plaza Drive, as to be well-below national safety guidelines. There is no reason to leave the current 4500 square ft. debt free facility, owned by the town. Any asbestos questions can be eliminated with tile or floor covering per national asbestos guidelines.

No 4. In 2009, KCEC agreed to scale back the construction of the proposed center and confine its use to the Coop as an office building—not a community command center–according to documents from the Town of Taos’s own development review committee per the issuance of a building permit. The building is currently unsuitable technically for a regional command center, raising questions about the intent of the original grant and its implementation.

No. 5. The KCEC Command Center is built partially on land in a flood plain, according to maps and has not received a variance from state agencies.

No. 6. The land at the Command Center, two acres, was purchased for $400,000 but was not appraised prior to purchase, according to the Coop Trustees.

No. 7. The building plans, which originally entailed a facility costing almost $4 million were scaled back to a building costing $2.7 million, hence the lack of technology (electric and computer connect) infrastructure for which the grant was given, according to the town’s permitting process.

No. 8. The state’s Construction Industries Board was never consulted about the parameters of the building as an E911—Dispatch facility. The town, not the state, approved the building plans.

No. 9. Prior to its construction and for years thereafter, no public entity signed on to participate in the facility because of questions about cost, infrastructure, and a neutral non-political Joint Powers Agreement, composed of professionals.

No. 10. The lease between the Town of Taos and KCEC today, signed July 1, 2013, is incomplete: exhibit “C,” referred to in Section 10, “Common areas,” is not attached. Exhibit A does not include the drawings of a floor plan. The lease, at best, can be described as cobbled together, favoring attorneys and lawsuits, not good faith negotiations among neighbors.

No. 11. Good faith negotiations have never taken place, due to KCEC’s and the Town’s lack of honesty or concern for instituting a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) prior to public safety decision-making. A majority of County Commissioners recognizes the lack of trust and bad faith on the part of KCEC and the Town of Taos, as do federal agencies that refuse to negotiate with the Coop and Town.

No. 12. If the Town and KCEC want to reinstitute good-faith negotiations, they, along with Taos County, should appeal to Governor Martinez, DFA, the state auditor, Construction Industries, and the Attorney General, as mediators. Commissioner Blankenhorn in an email barrage generally supports saving the community millions of dollars via cooperation and he has said, a proper lease. But the Town and the Coop have yet to demonstrate good faith in return. The current facility remains the top and only contender for financial and technical reasons in terms of public safety and taxpayer protection.

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