Whether it was a discussion on Community Development Block Grant funds, a fire assistance agreement between Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs, or police department funding, councilor Gary Williams made his voice heard on all issues during Monday’s Ruidoso Downs Council meeting.
Williams was a stickler for figures and precise language on almost every item on the agenda, not the least of which was the approval of two bids to improve North Central, River Lane and Nevada Lane.
According to a memorandum prepared by Public Works Director Cleatus Richards, Star Paving Company submitted a low bid of $433.237.07, with a majority of funds for the projects being paid for by CDBG and Co-Op funding from the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
But Williams had questions about the bidding process, particularly since the project had to be re-bid.
“The cost did go up between bids, so the projects won’t be completely finished,” Richards said. “We’re talking about 50-60 percent done with the funds we have.”
Richards said the city can go back to CDBG for further funding, while City Administrator Carol Virden said there are other sources of funding beyond that.
“But getting the award is difficult because of competing bids from other municipalities and counties in the state,” Virden said.
Williams stated the agenda memorandum mentioned the city’s street improvement fund has enough cash balance to award the remainder, and asked why these projects would have to be left undone until further funds could be acquired from CBDG.
“You’re telling me we still can’t finish these projects with those funds?” Williams asked. “There’s a cash balance from the year before. We can’t finish it with that?”
“There has to be some left to cover change orders and unseen contingencies,” Richards answered. “All that takes up the money that’s available.”
Despite Williams’ concerns about the funding, he voted for the bid awards in a unanimous approval.
Williams also questioned items in a mutual aid fire assistance agreement between Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs, particularly the question of whether training between departments would be conducted.
Mayor Tom Armstrong, who once served as the chief of the volunteer fire department in Ruidoso Downs, said combined training between the municipalities would be a good idea.
Williams also questioned a stipulation in the agreement that states the municipality requesting assistance must provide water, food, oil and fuel for the responding department.
Williams asked if there was a budget item for that type of thing, and Armstrong said the Downs’ fund for those items could be used for any fire department assisting in fighting a fire.
“But if we use that for another department, we’ll have to replace it,” Williams said. “Why not have a line-item fund specifically for other departments?”
Virden answered the city can go in that direction, but the agreement as it stands only allows for standing operating procedures. The council voted unanimously to approve the agreement, in light of the current extremely dry conditions in the area.
The council also approved the hiring of Ryan Frost as a temporary police officer.
“We had advertised for an open position, and Mr. Frost had made it through the background process, but then the position was frozen for the upcoming budget year,” explained Police Chief Doug Babcock. “But now we’ve got staffing issues.”
Babcock explained one officer has been deployed to Afghanistan and another is out of commission with shoulder surgery, making a new officer a necessity.
“I spoke with the candidate and he agreed to take on the job on a temporary basis. There are no benefits at all, just salary,” Babcock said. “He is a certified officer from Georgia.”
Before the hiring was approved, Williams brought up more concerns about the paperwork forwarded by Babcock.
In other business, the council:
• Approved an agreement between the city and the Lincoln County Humane Society to provide kennel services for animals under the society’s care;
• Approved a special dispenser permit for the Hubbard Museum of the American West for a new exhibit opening July 1.