Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board members at their Oct. 19 meeting in Los Alamos are, from right, Rio Arriba County Commissioner Barney Trujillo, City of Santa Fe Councilor Peter Ives, Town of Taos Councilor Daren Fernandez, Santa Fe County Commissioner and Chair Henry Roybal, City of Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez and Los Alamos County Council Chair David Izraelevitz who was attending on behalf of Councilor Morrie Pongratz. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County Council is slated to consider some 12 potential motions Tuesday evening during their regular session pertaining to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities under an item entitled, “RCLC Update and Review of Activity”.
The agenda packet for the meeting states that given the breadth of potential actions on this subject, County Manager Harry Burgess is not making any specific recommendations at this time. It says Councilor Susan O’Leary requested the agenda item to decide and approve next steps for RCLC as pertains to the Adams + Crow report and items discussed at the Sept. 6 special Council meeting and that part of her request was to include for consideration the recommendations made by Burgess in a report he presented at that meeting. It says additional motions for consideration provided by other Councilors are included in the packet.
The packet states that there have been a variety of activities regarding RCLC concurrent to the Council’s discussion. It notes that newly-appointed RCLC executive director Eric Vasquez will be present at the meeting to discuss these efforts and that included in the packet are; the contract for executive director services with CPLC which included specific changes from prior contracts specifically not allowing additional reimbursement for travel and other expenses of the contractor; and several actions in response to a letter sent to State Auditor Wayne Johnson’s audit report outlined in the RCLC agenda for its Oct. 19 meeting.
Also included is a copy of a letter Burgess sent Sept. 26 to Vasquez concerning the level of services to be provided by the County as the RCLC fiscal agent. That letter states that the County’s role as fiscal agent is to deposit cash receipts and to process disbursements. It says that the County does not anticipate performing any other activities or services as fiscal agent for the RCLC and notes that this is “the first step in moving forward”. No decision on the level of services has been voted on by the full Council and the option for the County to completely cease its role as fiscal agent for the RCLC not later than Jan. 1, 2019 is on the list of motions for the meeting.
The potential motions included in the packet are as follows:
- I move that Los Alamos County affirm its support for the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities and direct staff to assist RCLC in its efforts to effect the changes recommended in the State Auditor’s report;
- I move that Los Alamos County shall cease its role as Fiscal Agent of the RCLC not later than Jan. 1, 2019;
- I move that Los Alamos County will immediately adopt the State of New Mexico travel, mileage and per diem policies as the sole county policy for travel, mileage and expense reimbursement;
- I move that Los Alamos County will investigate RCLC expense reimbursements made to Los Alamos county employees and elected representatives since the inception of the RCLC. When this investigation is concluded, the County Manager will contact any employee or official who received an improper reimbursement and seek to recover the money. The County Manager will provide the County Council with a status report every month during his monthly update with the names of the individuals and the amounts due until all funds have been recovered;
- I move that the County Council Rules Subcommittee shall recommend modifications to Council Rules to clarify the communication and other responsibilities of any County Councilor who obtains material information about County business; with particular focus on requirements regarding communication to all other County Councilors. These rule amendments will be presented by the County to the full County Council for vote not later than the Nov. 28 meeting;
- I move that Council should consider how its participation on external boards exposes the county to liability, develop a policy that defines what is appropriate activity relating to such external board participation, and train its officers and employees to that policy;
- I move that any fiscal agent relationship that Los Alamos County enters into should include an associated agreement that details what services/expectations are entailed;
- I move that all current fiscal agent roles should be reviewed for appropriateness and consideration should be made as to whether to continue with these relationship;
- I move that finance department personnel be reminded and retrained to insure that all expenditures processed by the department receive the same level of review. Further, I move that in the event that an external agency is involved which possesses alternate policies and/or procedures, then Los Alamos County should confirm through a memorandum of understanding or similar agreement what its review process will entail, and should consider whether LAC can accommodate any differences in practice that such alternate policies would require;
- I move that any personnel, whether elected or appointed, that act in a fiduciary role for an external agency should recuse themselves from the related LAC review process;
- I move that Los Alamos County staff should never be placed in a position of providing services to another entity for which there is no direct supervisory relationship;
- I move that the Council develop and adopt policies that outline the roles of both employees and elected officials regarding their participation in boards and committees external to the regular operations of Los Alamos County. I further move that Council direct the County Manager to develop materials specific to each of these external boards/committees that will inform the assigned personnel as to the history of the parent organization, any agreements that exist between the organization and the County, the administrative policies of the organization, and any additional information relevant to the participation of County employee es and elected officials on such boards/committees.
At the Oct. 19 RCLC meeting Santa County Commissioner Henry Roybal was reelected Coalition chair. In nominating Roybal, outgoing vice chair Rio Arriba County Commissioner Barney Trujillo said being chair is a difficult task.
“Definitely our Coalition has come under some scrutiny but it’s because of your work and your due diligence that the questions had to be brought up. And I thank you for being able to just stand with the challenges. I think that the continuous leadership is very important and I think right now it’s in the best interest of this Coalition, and I’m sure my fellow councilors will agree, to continue that leadership so we can bring some stability to this Coalition and continue to grow and continue our relationship with Los Alamos,” Trujillo said.
Councilor Darien Fernandez of the Town of Taos is the new vice chair. Councilor Peter Ives, City of Santa Fe. The board’s new secretary will be whoever is representing Los Alamos County on the board.
During the meeting, the RCLC board voted to have Roybal, Ives and Vasquez obtain three or more bids from OSA-approved auditors and select a new auditor with the board approving their choice. The board also voted to use the same process to select an independent accountant to review financial transactions and also to pursue opening two separate bank accounts to meet the OSA’s recommendation.
A resolution supporting the continued funding of the North Central Regional Transit District through regional transit gross receipts tax in the upcoming election was also passed.
The board also decided to hold a strategic planning session/retreat to review the RCLC work plan and strategic planning for the organization.