on September 13, 2022
By JO LUTZ
Daily Press Staff
Monday night, the Bayard City Council honored the community’s tournament champion baseball teams before discussing public projects, employee compensation and ongoing concerns with city ordinances — including those of M&M Auto, the business license for which was recently suspended by the city.
Mayor Chon Fierro called the meeting to order at 6 pm with all councilors present at the Bayard Community Center, which was packed with high school athletes and their well-wishers, who cheered the proclamation of September as Copper Little League Month. Both the senior boys and senior girls Copper Little League teams posed for photos with the council.
During public comment, several residents complained about last week’s fire in an abandoned house, which they said presented concern for neighbors not only from smoke damage, but from water and potential mold that could threaten their health.
A handful of residents also showed up in support of Matthew Valenzuela of M&M Auto, whose business license has been withheld by the city pending the redress of various ordinance violations. He was described as a hardworking man who helped people in his community by delivering food and helping customers at low cost. One woman expressed concern that the denial of the license represented unfriendly business practices that would drive businesses out of Bayard.
Valenzuela himself showed up, complaining of unreturned phone calls and asking about the status of his business license. The council told him that if their conditions were met, he should fill out the proper paperwork at City Hall so it could be looked at.
During their reports, Mayor Pro Tem Raul Villanueva and other councilors acknowledged the residents who came out in support of Valenzuela and M&M Auto.
“The decision wasn’t made overnight,” Councilor Jose Diaz said. “He can reapply once the criteria have been met.”
“I agree he is a good person,” Villanueva said. “We just have rules we have to follow. We need business in Bayard, we need beautification, we need a lot in Bayard. And we need to work together to get it done.”
Under new business, councilors explored a program to reimburse volunteer firefighters and EMS providers. The amount of the stipend is unknown until funding is actually secured, City Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Ortiz said, adding that a requirement for getting that funding is to have a policy in place to distribute the reimbursement. She provided a draft policy based on that of other towns that use the pay-per-call program.
The council unanimously approved required matching funds of 10 percent for Colonias grants for water and sewer projects, and approved an application to the NM Department of Transportation seeking a deadline extension to allow Bayard to complete a pavement rehabilitation project by Dec. 31, 2023, rather than the end of this year. Ortiz said that Southwest Concrete and Paving is ready to begin work as soon as the extension is approved.
They also approved a recategorization of paid time off that would provide back pay to city employees who had taken COVID-related time off prior to an earlier rules change.
The council seemed most excited to approve a notice of intent to adopt a new ordinance concerning the registration and maintenance of vacant and abandoned public structures, based on one that has been used successfully in Santa Clara. Councilor Frances Gonzales thanked Ortiz and her staff for putting together the draft document, which staff will review for compliance once more before making it available for a 14-day public comment period.
“It strongly affects the way that Bayard looks,” she said.
“The ordinance will really help people in need of neighbors beautifying their property,” Villanueva said. “It will give us good guidance on what we can and cannot do.”