Taos County Board of Commissioners Regular Meeting Summary

By: Contributor
18 September, 2013

(Editor’s Note: While most of Commissioner Blankenhorn’s report below concerns the customary nuts and bolts of governing, readers might take note of the potential for good news: building a bicycle trail to Arroyo Seco mostly on private property.

The bad news, as usual, concerns the Town of Taos’s troubled operation of  the PSAP (Public Safety Access Point/E911–Dispatch Center) at the ill-fated KCEC Command Center, which 24/7 operation was apparently “down” for an undisclosed amount of  time. We also hear the building leaked but didn’t flood during the recent rainstorm. While conducting a campaign of unprecedented hostility aimed at citizens, taxpayers, and the larger community–annexation, command center, library, arts and cultural district, decaying streets and infrastructure, contracts for cuates–the current Mayor, Council, and executive staff at the Town of Taos have also compiled a stunning record of incompetence. Taos desperately needs a new mayor and council.)

September 17, 2013

From the Desk of Tom Blankenhorn

Presentations

El Prado Community Center

Members of the community of El Prado presented the Board with a copy of a history of that community, written and developed by Dr. Kathryn Cordova. The four inch binder contains many personal accounts that preserve the stories of El Prado’s past. In addition to the intrinsic value of that document, El Prado hopes to use it to help establish itself as a Historical Community under a protective status that would prevent annexation by the Town. Currently, State Law does not afford such protection to communities with a population of less than 50,000. El Prado has approximately 3,000 residents.
The Board instructed staff to lobby for an amendment to State Law that would afford protection against annexation for smaller historical communities such as El Prado, Canon, Ranchos and Llano Quemado, which may be endangered by the Town’s annexation ambitions.

Funding Agreements

Legislative Grants

The Board unanimously approved a number of grant agreements for projects that were approved for funding during last year’s State Legislative Session.
$75,000 for the Design, Fence and Construction for a Veteran’s Cemetery.

$50,000 for Plan, Design, Construction, Renovation, Purchase and Equipment for the Cerro Community Center .

$30,000 for Plan, Design and Construction of Bathrooms, Lighting and Electrical System at Filemon Sanchez Park in Taos County.

$24,000 for the Purchase, Construction and Installation of a Furnace for the Peñasco Community Center

$50,000 to Purchase and Install an Air Conditioning Unit at Llano Quemado Community Center .

Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan

The Board also unanimously approved the Taos County Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) that lists 30 capital projects for which the County hopes to obtain funding. A small number of the 30 may be funded for design in any given year, and one may be funded to completion.

The top five are comprised of one road project from each of the 5 districts.

Camino del Medio
Pilar Bridge
Weimer road
Abregadero Road
Millicent Rogers Road

The County also added a promising project to the ICIP called Trails del Norte, which will seek funding for a bike trail from just north of Town to Arroyo Seco on a route through pastures rather than on the highway. This is a very exciting proposal, and it appears that many of the landowners over whose property the trail would run have given preliminary approval. The Board committed itself to acting as fiscal agent to any governmental funding agreement and to making limited matching fund payments, as required.

E-911 Dispatch

In August, the Town moved the E-911/Dispatch operation from its long standing offices on Civic Plaza Drive to the Kit Carson Command Center. Since the Town opened the new dispatch center at the Kit Carson Building, County staff has discovered lapses in service that appear to be related to the fact that the radio equipment and tower remain at the old Civic Plaza Drive site. However, County staff has not had sufficient access to the current operations to be able to figure out the source of the problem. The Town denies that a problem exists. (Friction Editor’s Bold)

The Town and County have agreed in principal to negotiate a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) to operate E-911 Dispatch under a governing board made up of the Town, County, Village of Questa, and the Taos Ski Valley, along with an advisory board made up of local law enforcement and fire department officials. Under the JPA, the governing Board would be empowered to make a decision regarding the ultimate location of the dispatch center and the planned capital expenses to upgrade equipment. However, prior to entering into the JPA negotiations, the County must be able to identify and mitigate any problems with the current dispatch system, which is vital to the safety of Taos County citizens.

The Board voted 4-0 (Commissioner Duran was absent) to inform the Town that prior to entering into a JPA, the Town would have to address concerns about current operations in a meeting with County staff. If all concerns could not be satisfactorily met, then the Town and County would develop a contingency plan to insure no further lapses in service and present those plans to the governing bodies for approval. Once the concerns are satisfactorily addressed, then the Town and County would negotiate the Joint Powers Agreement to be entered into within 90 days.

The Board also voted 3-1 to pursue a contract for the erection of a Tower adjacent to the County’s old planning and zoning building, which is located across Albright Street from the Judicial Complex, behind Super Save. The tower will cost approximately $100,000. I voted against the proposal because I do not want to commit any funds on dispatch until the JPA is in place and the new governing Board has made its own decisions regarding location and equipment. Building a communication tower on our property, which is a mile away from the Kit Carson building, will do nothing to address current problems with dispatch and it will not shorten the time before we have a satisfactory dispatch operation in place.

Executive Session

In closed session, the Board discussed the County Manager’s contract which has its one year anniversary next month. In closed session, the Board unanimously praised Stephen Archuleta for his work managing the County. In open session, the Board voted unanimously to increase Mr. Archuleta’s salary from $110,000 per year to $120,000 beginning on the one year anniversary date of his contract.

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