Otero County Commissioners discuss various budgetary changes

Otero County Treasurer Dennis Smith appeared at the Otero County Commissioners’ weekly meeting on Tuesday to explain the delinquent tax sale to the public. Anyone with unpaid taxes needs to get them paid by Friday, Oct. 13, to avoid publication. The Rocky Ford Daily Gazette will be publishing the insert this year, and changes cannot be made after this Friday. However, property owners may pay their taxes and have their property not be offered at the tax sale itself.

Buyers at the tax sale receive a tax lien, on which the interest rate will go from 10 to 11 percent this year, making the tax lien a good investment. The property owner may pay off his tax debt, plus interest, at any time during the three-year period of the lien. If it is not paid off by that time, the deed may be transferred to the owner of the lien. The closest call Smith remembers is the property owner stopping him as he was entering the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to transfer the deed on the property. There is an additional $450 worth of charges if the lien goes that far.

Director of Human Services Donna Rohde made the budget adjustments requested by the auditor, transferring Electronic Benefit Transfers completely out of the county budget, since the money for them is never in the county, but paid directly by the state. The same applies to the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) fund, said Commissioner Kevin Karney. Since the money is never actually in the county, the auditors asked it be taken out of the county budget.

County Administrator Jean Hinkle said the Small Business Fund is now a component unit of the County Board of Directors and will no longer be handled through the county budget. The temporary reduction required by the TABOR amendment in effect in 2016, reducing the mill levy to 21.511, will not be in effect in 2017 and 2018, reverting the mill levy and assessed valuation (net) to 21.948.

Cody Ridennoure from Commissioner Voting District 2 was appointed to fulfill the vacant position on the Otero County E911 Authority Board. Tracy Nelson from Commissioner Voting District 3 was appointed to fulfill the other vacant position. They will join Chief Aaron Eveatt, Chief Ray Gonzales, Sheriff Shawn Mobley, Chief Todd Quick and Jean Hinkle on the E911 Board. These positions are indefinite in term.

A copy of the proposed budget for the ensuing year of 2018 has been presented to the Otero County Commissioners and will be available at oterogov.com after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, said Hinkle. It will be considered by the Otero County Commissioners on Dec. 4 at the 1:30 meeting and adopted on Dec. 11 at the 1:30 meeting. In the meantime, any interested elector of Otero County may inspect the proposed budget and file or register any objections thereto at any time prior to the final adoption of the budget.

Otero County Economic Development Director Danelle Berg reported a successful meeting with the Manufacturing Sector Partnership. Chase Kohne, candidate for Congressional District 4, was also an active participant and liked the manufacturers' program to promote well-paying industrial jobs to students in middle school, hoping to improve retention of talent in the area. The nursing home project continues for the next three weeks in La Junta, with participants canvassing door to door. A report on the housing assessment for Otero and Crowley counties will be held 1-3 p.m. on Oct. 17, Room 107.

The bid is open for the 911 replacement equipment, and is due Oct. 20. There are expected to be four bidders, said Hinkle.

Thursday the 12th, 9 a.m. in Room 107 will be the logic and accuracy testing time for the Dominion voting equipment, said County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy.