Special Meeting to be held Tuesday at SEC

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The monthly meeting of the Socorro Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees on Wednesday evening was comparatively calm to past meetings, and while the board did take action on a couple of looming items, some questioned the legitimacy of their approval.

During June’s regular meeting, the head coach of the Belen Eagles rookies football team, James Lucero, requested a donation from the Co-op to help the team with insurance and referees fees. The item on Wednesday’s agenda called for a $350 donation to the team.

In 2009 an amendment to the bylaws was made regarding the disbursement of funds in that they should only be made to student scholarships, but that particular line has since been omitted. Article 8, Section 8 of the bylaws does currently state no co-op donations will be awarded to adult or civic organizations, but it doesn’t actually spell out exactly what those are.

Trustee Don Wolberg pointed out, though, that Policy 513 does allow for the co-op to send students to Boys State and Girls State (summer leadership programs), and Policy 515 does lay out descriptions and qualifications for scholarships and where they are to be distributed.

He provided a lengthy list of organizations that other co-ops from around the state contribute to, and also pointed out that the co-op is required to give away 5 percent of what they have per year, or there exists the possibility of a fine. He said providing the team with the donation seemed perfectly rational.

Trustee Prescilla Mauldin displayed some apprehension that the team is not, in fact, a Socorro team, but it is stated in co-op policy that Belen is on a list of schools eligible for donations.

Trustee Charlie Wagner said there is a scholarship trust that uses monies forfeited by members, but it should be used exclusively for scholarships. He said he didn’t believe there was a specifically consistent policy regarding the matter and that it wasn’t fair to give to teams in one district without giving to teams in other districts.

When the motion was called to vote, Wagner requested a voice roll call vote per the Open Meetings Act, which he was granted, and the motion carried with Wagner and Mauldin voting nay.

Wolberg was then voted as acting delegate for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Region 10 meeting, and newly appointed Chief Financial Officer Apren Romero was granted bank card authorization.

The board was also presented with their audit report for the year ending Dec. 31, 2011. It was pointed out the audit year can be separate from the fiscal year, and that the co-op is in compliance regarding this matter, noting an audit had been performed on March 31, 2011.

A brief breakdown of the audit report includes total current co-op assets at $70 million, deferred charges of $4.1 million, net equities of $19.1 million, long-term debt of $46.4 million, current liabilities of $3.9 million and deferred credits of $157,000.

The total operating revenues of the co-op, including residential, commercial, irrigation, industrial and public buildings is $23.7 million, while the operating expenses stand at $20 million. This makes for a net operating margin of $3.6 million. Interest on long-term debts equal $2.1 million.

Wagner requested he be allowed to question the presenting auditors about several issues without management present, one of those issues being a requested breakdown of legal fees involving “Outside Services Employed” which amounted to $151,578. There was no itemized entry on the report, but Wagner’s request was denied and the board approved the audit.

The manager reported member applications and cancellations included 29 new accounts, 28 reconnects and 110 disconnects.

Wolberg gave a New Mexico Renewable Energy Credit Act presentation under trustee reports, regarding the possibility of alternate energy sources being utilized locally. The possible sources included geothermal, photovoltaic and natural gas. He also pointed out that these energy sources do not necessarily provide a hotbed of new jobs.

Wagner then spoke regarding the issue of cash advances to co-op board members. In light of an unaudited fact sheet outlining compensation and expenses incurred by trustees from 2006-2010, he motioned that receipts should be provided by all board members involving cash advances, and compensation for charges incurred should only be granted for business purposes. The motion was not seconded and thus died.

The Co-op Board then broke for executive session where they discussed litigation, specifically Section 10-15-1 (H) (7) NMOMA, involving Charlene West and Charlie Wagner, cross-claim. No action was taken on the matter.

On July 31 there will be a special meeting ordered by New Mexico 13th Judicial District Court Judge Albert Mitchell regarding a lawsuit by plaintiffs Carol Auffrey and Herbert Myers, individually, representing the class of member/owners of the Co-op against the Socorro Electric Cooperative, acting as defendant. At the parties’ request, the meeting is intended to provide open and candid discussion regarding issues raised by the current lawsuit in a productive, professional atmosphere, this according to the court order.

Also according to the court order, the meeting shall take place in “limited” executive session, meaning it will be closed to membership, but that particular portion of the meeting shall be broadcast via electronic audio to attending members outside of the closed meeting room. Members of the press will be allowed inside the meeting room, and the Board of Trustees will have the authority to order the meeting fully closed after the plaintiffs’ presentation of concerns.

The special meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at 310 Abeyta, across from the DAV.

The next regular monthly meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 22.