Addressing the nomination of mayor pro-tem Edna Trager to now serve as the City of Elephant Butte’s mayor October 2, city councilors rendered a majority 3-to-1 vote in favor of the move. Councilor Travis Atwell delivered the sole dissenting vote.

Prior to this action, council members recognized how the mayor’s post is primarily a non-voting position with the board, as the individual in that role may only cast a vote to break a tie when the council finds itself deadlocked. While initially concerned about how the then-proposed selection might affect upcoming board decisions, councilors also recognized such restrictions would not become effective until Trager might be formally sworn into the post.

After further discussion, councilors agreed Trager’s oath of office ceremony could be included on the board’s November 6 regular meeting agenda, ensuring her ability to participate in council decisions until that date. Council members further supported Atwell’s suggestion to include the appointment of a new council member to fill Trager’s voting seat on that session’s agenda as well. With this acknowledged, the board proceeded with the vote, naming Trager as the interim-mayor.

CITY MANAGER POSITION OFFERED

In addressing the vacant city manager’s post, Trager first confirmed a special closed-door meeting held Sunday, September 15 solely concerned a follow-up candidate interview. She then announced that Vicki Ballinger emerged as the primary applicant and accepted a motion to formally offer her the position.

Ballinger was not on hand for the afternoon’s session, but Trager indicated she was confident the city’s offer would be accepted. The interim mayor said Ballinger was a former resident of the community and was looking forward to the opportunity to return. She further noted Ballinger’s starting date with the city would be Monday, October 21.

MORATORIUM ENDORSED

Supporting a recommendation from the city’s planning and zoning commission (P&Z), councilors joined in a unanimous vote to approve Ordinance No. 186, endorsing a six-month moratorium on the development of any new storage lots within the city limits.

Prior to the vote, board members conducted a formal public hearing, which rendered no comments objecting to, or supporting the measure. In discussion, P&Z member Chuck Looney confirmed the ordinance would not pertain to existing establishments. He also explained how the action aimed to halt the development of any additional storage lots, allowing the P&Z an opportunity to consider potential modification of related regulations.

COMPLAINT ADDRESSED BY AG

During her regular report, the interim mayor acknowledged that a formal complaint against the city was lodged with the New Mexico Attorney General’s (AG) Office on September 10. Trager noted how this complaint centered on a potential Open Meetings Act violation and in this regard, was subsequently reviewed by state authorities.

Trager announced the recent receipt of a formal statement from the AG’s office, which emphasized their conclusion was that no apparent open meetings act violation had occurred, as no respective action was taken during the session in question.

OTHER BOARD ACTION AND ITEMS

•After adjourning for a closed-door executive session discussion, councilors reopened the afternoon’s public meeting and opted to render no decision regarding a proposal by Spirit Golf Management to oversee concessionaire services for the Sierra Del Rio golf course. Prior to the executive session, councilors were provided with an overview of the proposal by the firm’s managing partner, Todd Barranger. Although councilors opted to take no action, negotiations will reportedly continue with hopes of securing an acceptable agreement for both parties.

•During her report, councilor Kim Skinner confirmed that the national Christmas Tree was being harvested in New Mexico and would be making a stop in Truth or Consequences on its way to Washington D.C. She said the tree’s convoy would be pausing outside the Black Range Forest District Office on North Date Street on Thursday, November 14 from 4-to-5 p.m. Skinner told councilors a special gathering was being planned with numerous area groups and organizations, and said festivities would surround the visit from 3:30-to-5:30 p.m.

•Skinner also reported that Sierra County would be receiving a planning grant to help further development of the Rio Grande Trail Project. She relayed how an application was submitted to aid the proposed construction of two bridges across the Rio Grande, one adjacent to Rotary Park in Truth or Consequences and another adjacent to the Village of Williamsburg.

•During public comment, Sierra County resident Denise Addie urged councilors to support efforts to stage a formal Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day event. She explained how the event would be held at the Turtleback Mountain Resort’s entrance pond and among other highlights, would involve the launching of candle laden model boats in memory of servicemen and women who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. While councilors did not address any action pertaining to Addie’s request, they did indicate support for the initiative. Later in the session, Trager said officials with Turtleback Mountain Resort responded to a communication, confirming their support of the event and approval of the requested site.

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