No funds to fix county courthouse roof

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The county courthouse roof is in really bad shape.

The entire roof needs to be replaced, but, in some places, the roof could even collapse at any time because the decking has started to sag, said Joseph Baca, a local representative for Tremco Roofing and Weatherproofing Systems, Inc., at the Socorro County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

The most critical areas are the sections over the county assessor's and treasurer's offices, the sheriff's department office, and the jail kitchen, he said.

There already have been cave-ins in the assessor's and treasurer's offices, said County Manager Delilah Walsh.

Baca told commissioners that some parts of the roof have no waterproof covering at all. He warned that water accumulation could also cause mold problems.

The big problem is how to pay the $200,000 needed to re-roof just these critical areas.

Walsh said the county originally had allotted $25,000 for emergency courthouse roof repairs, but that was before anyone knew the extent of the problem.

Walsh said the county has no extra funding available to fix the roof, so she asked the commissioners to consider dipping into the county's emergency funds at the next County Commission meeting.

Walsh said the county has eliminated all capital outlay in every department and has instituted other cost controls, but still cannot come up with the money needed for the roof repairs.

"We have a $100,000 deficit in the budget right now," Walsh said. "The only option is to dip into our reserve funds."

The commissioners asked Baca to come up with a section-by-section estimate for the roof repairs and to report back at the next meeting.

• Valencia County Regional Dispatch Center Director Shirley Valdez addressed the commission on the steps needed to get a regional 911 dispatch center started in Socorro County. Valdez said it would take one to two years to establish a center here, and that Valencia's center would be available for some of the training required for employee certification.

County Manager Delilah Walsh said New Mexico state police is consolidating dispatch centers. Socorro's NMSP dispatching will be handled in Albuquerque, although the schedule for this move has not been finalized. Currently, the Socorro state police dispatch center handles calls for the county sheriff's department and the Magdalena marshal's office. In the short term, the county could partner with Valencia County's dispatch center, but eventually the county needs to set up its own regional dispatch center. For liability reasons, the city police department supports a regional dispatch center but not taking on dispatching for the county.

Walsh said the county commission needs to think about the county's future dispatch needs. Much of the equipment could be funded by grants, but the county could not presently afford to staff a regional center.

"Once Socorro's state police dispatch center goes away, we have to be ready (to provide 911 services)," she said. "But we don't have the money to hire 10 people. We will need someone highly qualified to run the center. There's a lot to think about."

• In her technology report, Walsh said the fraud reporting tool will be posted on the county's transparency website. This tool is a way for the public to report fraud committed by county employees. Reports related to the county manager will be directed to the state auditor's office, Walsh said. All reports will remain anonymous.

The Rio Grande Estates buyer/seller exchange website, listing parcels with delinquent tax bills, has been completed.

• Socorro County Senior Centers Director Lewis Auerbach reported the golf fundraiser was a success, raising $1,100 so far, with more money still coming in. Auerbach plans to ask the state for more funding for transportation, especially for Veguita seniors who are calling ambulances to transport them to Socorro for non-emergency errands. Commissioner Juan Gutierrez asked Auerbach to look into using the city buses to transport seniors. Commissioner R. J. Griego said he has been in contact with the state to look into funding possibilities.

• County Treasurer Genevie Baca said the treasurer's office is working on its data base conversion this week. As per state statute, uncollectable tax liabilities older than ten years were dropped from the county's tax ledger this week, Baca said. The treasurer's office dropped 2,745 parcels represented a loss of $51,193 in tax payments. About $26,000 delinquent accounts were on parcels in Rio Grande Estates in the northern part of the county.

• County Assessor Henry Jojola was present but did not address the commissioners. Office manager Julie Griego said the office had not prepared a progress report. Tax rolls may be done by mid-week, she said. Nineteen property tax protest hearings will be held from Oct.23-24 at the County Annex on Neel Street,

• The board approved the Community Development Block Grant for the Veguita Health Center.

• Commissioner Pauline Jaramillo said the Socorro High School Homecoming celebration will proceed as usual this year. She hopes the county commissioners will be able to attend the parade and other homecoming events this weekend.

• The commissioners congratulated County Clerk Rebecca Vega for 25 years of service.

• The board proclaimed Oct. 7 through 13 as Fire Prevention Week. County fire marshal Fred Hollis said the department will be visiting schools this week. On Oct. 17, the department will have a booth at the Socorro Nature Center in Lemitar.

• Road department supervisor Marty Greenwood said the department is still waiting for an archeological review to be completed before it can begin work on FEMA projects in Bingham and at the shrine on the gun club road. Road crews have installed a culvert on the Riley road, and finished the Hop Canyon road maintenance work. In the Magdalena area, crews have bladed all the village roads and the airport runway. The department has installed a GPS unit in a county vehicle, and plans to install more units to better track equipment. Commissioner Danny Monette said the equipment is in fairly good shape but the department needs a mower to help with roadside maintenance.

• Facilities and Maintenance Director Mike Jojola said the tire clean up in Magdalena is finished except for some debris removal that has to wait for more state funding. The department poured a concrete border around the county workshop and at the county courthouse to prevent flooding and fixed holes in the sidewalks in front of the courthouse. Crews have cleaned the weeds from around the senior centers. Crews have also replaced sprinklers and trees at the San Antonio park. "Now people are using it," he said.

• Deputy Fire Marshall and abatement officer Mark Mercer reported that inmate crews have cleaned trash and blowing construction debris in the Romero Drive area of Ranchos de Veguita. Mercer said he had completed a training course for certification as a wildland fire arson investigator and will attend a floodplain manager training workshop next week.

• County Clerk Rebecca Vega commended her staff on their hard work updating the voter rolls in preparation for the general election starting Oct. 9. The special election on the hospital mill levy had closed voter registration for a month prior to the election day on Sept. 4.

"As of Oct. 8, we got all the special election voter histories updated in our system — 2,701 voter records done in the past two days," she said. "We worked on October 8 till 6 p.m. We are on time with all of our deadlines."

Vega expects the office to be busy from now till November with early and absentee voting.

"Early voting started today (Oct. 9)," she said. "We had a line of voters waiting before we opened at 8 (a.m.). We will have in the thousands."

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