Fire Ban Leads Off Mountainair Town Council Meeting

The May 2, 2023 Mountainair Town Council Meeting began with a proclamation of drought conditions by Fire Chief Phillip Nelson. Mayor Peter Nieto submitted a declaration for town council approval restricting certain types of fires and fireworks based on Fire Chief Nelson's proclamation. The town council approved this declaration during the regular meeting portion of the session. As a result of this declaration, the Town of Mountainair is under extreme drought restrictions until June 2, 2023. During that time, Mountainair will prohibit open fires (including campfires) and the sale or use of "display" fireworks (the large-scale fireworks used for Fourth of July celebrations).

The declaration limits the use of so-called "toy" fireworks to those that are not "missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners and stick-type rockets" (bottle rockets), such as "cone fountains, crackling devices, cylindrical fountains, flitter sparklers, ground spinners, illuminating torches, smoking devices and wheels...." In the case of permitted fireworks, the town has limited their permitted use to areas that are paved, barren, or that have a readily accessible source of water. The declaration banning open fires and fireworks can be renewed after its current June 2, 2023 expiration date. The town council unanimously authorized the mayor's declaration.

Councilor Ernie Lopez brought up a proposal that the town move its remaining certificate of deposit (CD) accounts held with the United Business Bank into an annuity offered by New York Life. Insurance Agent Abe Lincoln Chavez presented to the council an annuity that would offer 4.1% interest but would also have a 7% surrender charge if the money was moved from the account for use before the annuity matured at the end of its contractual cycle.

The discussion of the annuity is a part of a larger issue relating to the sudden change in natural gas prices for Mountainair, as previously detailed. During the May 2, 2023 meeting, Mayor Peter Nieto advised that the town will likely have to raise rates paid by residents for natural gas, water, solid waste, and waste water. The Mountainair Town Council will have a rate-setting meeting at 6:00 PM on May 30, 2023, and will discuss the town's budget for the next fiscal year (New Mexico municipal fiscal years begin on July 1; federal fiscal years begin on October 1) at 6:00 PM on May 16, 2023. The town council took no action on the annuity New York Life promoted.

Town Clerk Dennis Fulfer brought two resolutions before the town council, Resolution 2023-10 (R2023-10) and Resolution 2023-11 (R2023-11), both of which adjusted the town's budget. Generally, R2023-10 adjusted general allocations to the town's police, ambulance, executive, water, and natural gas funds. R2023-11 adjusted the town's budget allocations related to solid waste, lodger's taxes, and natural gas.

Resident Steven Burns had a motion to rent the Tomahawk Building as a commercial diesel mechanic shop. Burns was not present for the meeting, and this motion was deferred to a later date.

Finally, the town council unanimously approved acceptance of a donation of real estate at 106 North Ross Avenue for the cost of the property's tax arrears and closing costs. This is a 7,000 square foot property.

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