Magdalena water team disbanded by Village Board

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In front of a full house Tuesday night, the Magdalena Village Board of Trustees, in a 2-1 vote, disbanded the Magdalena Water Team – the committee that was formed in January to help the board make decisions on water system plans. Mayor Sandy Julian said since the New Mexico Rural Water Association provides the same service, the local volunteer water committee was not needed.

“There is no need for the Magdalena water board,” Julian said. “We’ve got two of them. We can get rid of one.”

Trustee Diane Allen made a motion to disband the water team, seconded by Trustee Tommy Torres. Trustee Barbara Baca, who was also a member of the water team, was absent from the meeting. The motion passed, with Trustee Dolly Dawson voting no.

Speaking out after the vote, resident Margaret Wiltshire said the board cannot disband it.

“You didn’t ask them to form it. It’s an all volunteer group,” she said.

During public input Allen said an “issue developed by the board, but not all of the board.”

“You step over the line and think you should make the policy, but the trustees make the policy,” Allen said. “They (the water committee) were only in an advisory capacity and (certain members) were getting into an area which is not a concern of a water team.”

She said there was “a lack of communication or a mis-communication. It is still an open issue.”

Julian reminded residents that all water restrictions have been lifted, but Allen urged residents to “conserve as much as you can. Just continue to conserve.”

After the meeting adjourned, Water Team member Don Wiltshire said the committee would still be meeting and addressing potential issues surrounding Magdalena’s water supply and system. He said members the team would meet at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at Magdalena Schools’ library.

“We can still be useful in any planning done by New Mexico Rural Water Association level,” he said.

In other action:

• Utilities Director Steve Bailey reported that the Benjamin and Spears wells have been taken offline for the time being; the Trujillo well is producing sufficiently.

• Village Clerk Jeannie Johnston reported the 2010-2011 audit is complete and has been sent to the state’s Department of Finance and Administration. She said the audit is public record and residents can inspect it at Village Hall.

• The board gave its approval to Johnston’s request to appoint the precinct board for the March 18 special election. Johnston said she decided to use the same board as the municipal election, and at the same salary: $200 for the precinct judge, and $160 for judge/clerks and translator. The board agreed.

• Julian announced the resignation of Aaron Laurent, who had been driving the village’s garbage truck. The board approved Julian’s request to advertise for a part-time solid waste operator.

• The board approved a request by Julian to schedule a “spring cleaning day” on April 12, weather permitting. She said if it was too windy that day, it would be rescheduled for April 19. “We need to get the weeds down,” she said.

• The board tabled a decision to allow Cibola National Forest use of Magdalena Airport Facility for a helicopter/SEAT (single engine air tanker) base, and the Community Center and rodeo grounds for an incident commander post or as fire camp facilities, during wildfire suppression efforts. The Forest Service would agree to pay the Village $75 a day for one helicopter or SEAT and use of the administration building; $25 a day for each additional helicopter or SEAT; $30 a day for use of Community Center; $30 a day for use of rodeo grounds; and, if needed, an additional $500 per day for security, plus $170 for an eight hour shift for each day requested by the Forest Service. Johnston said it was the same contract the village has used in the past. Julian said there was no mention of water use in the agreement and recommended tabling the action pending discussing possible water options with Forest Ranger Dennis Aldridge.

• The board approved a request by Julian to change the dates for the March board meetings from the first and third Mondays to the second and fourth Mondays, due to the municipal election on March 4 and special election on March 18.

• The board approved a request by Johnston to attend the 2014 Community Development Block Grant application workshop scheduled for March 12 to 14 in Albuquerque.

• Magdalena’s Film Liaison Diego Montoya reported on his visit last week with personnel of the New Mexico Film Office in Santa Fe. He passed out brochures and information packets for the Trustees to peruse.