Public hearings to be rescheduled

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By Jennifer Garcia

Two public hearings that were scheduled for Tuesday night’s county council meeting were deferred until some future council meeting. Based on that decision, the agenda was a bit lighter than expected.

Before any business was handled, the public was allowed to comment on items not listed on the agenda. Los Alamos resident Howard Cady seized the opportunity to address council regarding his concerns with the Complete Streets project on Trinity Drive.

Cady started out by saying, “Your council better look out. There’s trouble coming. If you’ve been noticing the Monitor, there’s been several letters and at least one editorial discussing the things that are going on on Trinity.” Cady went on to say that there will be two vociferous sides to the project. “I hope you educate yourself on this before it descends on your heads,” he continued.

He also said that he and his wife have been attending meetings of the downtown streets and standards committee. In addition, he told councilors that he thinks they’ll find the Chamber of Commerce on one side of the project, LA Walks on the opposing side and some faction of the community “at each other’s throats” over the project.

“I see two current proposals for Trinity, both with major problems. One that I think will be pushed the hardest is the four roundabouts between DP Road and Oppenheimer Drive. There’s not enough room for anything but a one-lane roundabout,” Cady said.

He also said that the committee seems to be doing their planning without input from the transportation board or police department.

“I don’t see any evidence of feedback between these (entities) at this time. All the proposals create problems with left turns, especially for the business community. I wish you luck in refereeing this battle,” he concluded.

Council Chair Michael Wheeler said simply, “Thanks Mr. Cady for the alert. Council is aware of what’s happening,” he said with a chuckle.

Two proclamations were also made during the meeting. The first declared April 18 as Clean Up Los Alamos Day. The second proclamation designated April 22 as Earth Day in Los Alamos.

Los Alamos National Bank representative Natalie Morgan and Environmental Services Director Regina Wheeler were on hand to accept the proclamation for Clean Up Los Alamos Day, while Rebecca Shanklin and Peter O’Rourke, representatives from PEEC were present for the Earth Day proclamation.

Both public hearings slated for Tuesday night’s meeting centered on land deals with Los Alamos Public Schools. The first public hearing would have authorized the conveyance in fee to the schools of a portion of real property in the 800 and 900 blocks of Trinity Drive.

The second public hearing would have authorized the execution of a lease agreement providing for the lease to the public schools of certain facilities at the Airport Basin. During the meeting held in council chambers, County Attorney Mary McInerny stated that staff was not ready to hold the public hearings. As a result, a motion to defer the meetings was made by Councilor Sharon Stover and passed unanimously.

The consent agenda was also approved by a unanimous vote, however, an item pertaining to the FY 2009 salary plan and new job descriptions for the staff services manager was moved to the business portion of the agenda so that it could be discussed.

During discussion of the agenda item, councilors took the opportunity to ask Police Chief Wayne Torpy and Assistant County Administrator Diana Steppan questions related to the job duties as well as job requirements and salary for the position.

Steppan explained to councilors that the position fell out of the salary plan when the job descriptions were redone.

“It was discovered during a routine audit that we didn’t have a job description. This person was functioning under a job description that had him performing duties that he no longer performed,” Steppan said.

Councilor Robert Gibson asked Torpy a series of questions that revolved around qualifications, job duties and responsibilities, which Torpy seemed to answer to Gibson’s satisfaction. One of Gibson’s main concerns was the salary grade listed for the job.

“The proposal here is to place this at a salary grade of 61, which is higher than a police lieutenant,” Gibson said.

He further explained that he thought the salary was high for someone who is not required to be a certified police officer and who is not doing police work.

“If you look at the job description for a police lieutenant, we don’t require a bachelor’s degree. This job requires a BA. It’s one of four direct reports in the police department,” Torpy explained.

“He speaks to citizens as a direct voice from me in interviewing people about police officer response and how they handle calls.” He also said the person in that position is responsible for doing internal audits.

After further discussion, Vice Chair Mike Wismer moved that council approve the new job description for the Staff Services Manager.

He further moved that council approve the Amended FY 2009 Salary Plan to reflect the new position. He then amended the motion to add the phrase “as amended” to the end of the motion. The motion passed 7-0.

Vacant seats for three different boards were filled during Tuesday night’s meeting, as well. Steve Laurent, Art Forester and Jeanne M. Hurford filled seats on the Fuller Lodge Historic Advisory Board.

One seat on the Utilities Board was up for grabs after Councilor Ralph Phelps was appointed to county council. Council voted to appoint Timothy R. Neal to the vacant seat.

Meanwhile, seats on the Transportation Board were filled by Eugene Dougherty, Shirley Graziano, Patrick Kilroy and Robert Weeks.