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County approves deputy pay raise compromise

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BERNALILLO — The Sandoval County Commission on Thursday approved a compromise pay raise for sheriff’s deputies, though it might be superseded in a few months, pending an arbitration decision on the county’s contract with the union.

Karl Wiese.

Karl Wiese.

Karl Wiese, undersheriff at the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office, said negotiations between the deputies association and the county had moved from mediation to arbitration and a final decision is four to six months away.

He asked and received from the commissioners, with support from county administration, a 6 percent increase, between pay and retirement contributions, which matched the increase for other county employees last July.

Wiese said the increase — which he described as the last, best offer from the county — would make starting pay at the sheriff’s office more competitive.

The arbitration decision will address financial compensation as well as other elements of the disputed union contract with the county.

In other business, the commissioners voted to make a payment of $77,780 toward the county’s landfill debt. The New Mexico Finance Authority loaned the county about $7 million last year to extend the capacity and life of the county landfill at Idalia and Iris roads.

In February, the commission voted to relocate power lines, belonging to the Public Service Company of New Mexico, that run through the site on public utility easements. The county paid PNM $2.03 million to move the lines, which will free up additional space at the landfill.

The rest of the NMFA loan will allow the county to keep the landfill in operation until at least 2029. Without it, the landfill would run out of capacity in seven to eight years.

The commissioners passed a resolution recognizing April as National Senior Volunteer Month. Peggy Cote, director of community services, invited the commissioners to a lunch with the county’s senior volunteers next Thursday.

The county’s senior program budget received a boost from the commissioners. They approved $15,000 for employee salaries and benefits and a capital outlay request to the state totaling $332,505, which will pay for renovations, equipment and vehicles.

Cote also presented a proclamation of Alcohol Awareness Month in April.

The commissioners adopted the resolution, which notes that people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.

The commissioners voted to award DHF Technical Products, Inc., a precious metals company, $200,000 to renovate the building they plan to move into this year.

The county should receive a reimbursement from the state, through Local Economic Development Act funding, county spokesman Sidney Hill said.

After the vote to support DHF, Commissioner Glenn Walters said the commissioners were now seeing the effects of the ordinance they passed two years ago to assist companies with LEDA funding.

After hearing a report on the county’s audit, prepared by Griego Professional Services LLC, Walters called it a “very clean audit.”

He stressed the audit, which the state auditor received more than two months after the Nov. 15 deadline, should be turned in on time next year, especially since the state is looking more closely at audits and has withheld funds in some cases from counties and cities with audit problems.

Larry Horan, county lobbyist, summarized bills and budgets passed in the recent legislative session that will impact the county. When asked about economic development, he said LEDA received $10 million and the state’s job training incentive program received $1.5 million.

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