Hires of Payroll Clerk, Two Police Officers Also Approved
A majority of Corrales councilors gave a thumbs up to a plan that makes minor changes in council district boundaries, but they were sharply divided over a proposed hiring freeze.
Councilors voted 5-1 for the redistricting plan drafted by Research & Polling Inc. The lone opponent, Councilor John Alsobrook, said he would prefer to return to the at-large system of representation Corrales had before switching to districts in 2008.
The plan puts the southeast portion of District 1, between Cottonwood and Academy, into District 2; the southern edge of District 2, just south of Camino los Milagros, is moved into District 3; two portions of District 3, at West Ella and Alamos, go to District 4, another goes to District 6. District 5 is left untouched.
The resolution to impose a hiring freeze, which was scheduled immediately before agenda items to approve hiring a payroll clerk and two police officers, sparked a lengthy and intense debate.
A handful of village residents who spoke on the issue were split. Some supported the freeze, citing concern for the village’s long-term financial health. Others opposed the proposal, pointing out the council had crafted and approved a budget that did not include a hiring freeze.
Resolution sponsor Councilor Ennio Garcia-Miera voiced concern about the data the village used to create the budget and the way it was managing its finances.
“The hiring freeze is a way to keep people from losing jobs,” he said. “I’m trying to keep the village from getting into trouble down the line.”
Councilor Gerard Gagliano criticized the village communication system that allowed the three positions to be posted on the agenda without prior public discussion.
Mayor Phil Gasteyer pointed out that the positions were not new hires. He said the village payroll clerk quit last week, and the two police officers would replace officers who resigned in recent months.
Councilor Sayre Gerhart moved to deny Garcia-Miera’s resolution, calling it an “arbitrary and uncooperative type of planning” that would demoralize village staff.
Gerhart and Councilors Mick Harper and Alsobrook voted against the resolution. Garcia-Miera, Gagliano and Councilor Pat Clauser voted for it. Gasteyer broke the tie by voting against the hiring freeze.
Councilors then voted 5-1 to approve hiring a payroll clerk and confirm staff recommendations to hire Renee Robles and Laura McAlister as police officers. Garcia-Miera cast the no vote.
Addressing Garcia-Miera’s concerns about the budget process, Gasteyer said Wednesday that the village works closely with a budget analyst appointed by the state Department of Finance Administration, which reviews and approves municipal budgets.
“We strictly follow what the DFA budget analyst tells us to do,” Gasteyer said.