STATEMENT OF PROGRESS BY CHAIRMAN PAUL CURRY

STATEMENT OF PROGRESS BY CHAIRMAN PAUL CURRY

By Paul B. Curry, Chairman
Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners
Commissioner, District 3

Over the past 12 months, I’m pleased to report that the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners has made tremendous progress on a wide range of issues related to goals we set early on in the year. Working together and involving the public in our decision-making process, my fellow Commissioners and I have advanced an ambitious agenda for progress in Doña Ana County.

By setting clear, measurable goals last January, we constructed a process by which to gauge our effectiveness. At that time, I laid out an agenda of action items for the county to pursue during 2003. In every identified endeavor, we either reached our goal or enjoyed substantial progress. What’s more, we did it all without raising taxes.

This month, Priority One of my administration will take a giant leap forward when ground is ceremonially broken for a new county administrative complex on Motel Boulevard, near the heart of Las Cruces. After decades of making do in a hodgepodge of old buildings ill-suited to workplace efficiency, public accessibility or economies of scale, Doña Ana County is moving forward with a state-of-the-art office complex that will put most of our personnel in one efficient building. We will co-locate with a brand new Sheriff’s Department office that will have easy access to highways and be within quick response distance of our 830-bed detention center.

To have renovated our old buildings would have been prohibitively expensive and would have given us no room to grow. As a result, the taxpayers would have had to continue footing the bill for leased and rented space to accommodate growth. Staying in our old buildings also would have meant a continuation of inefficient service that forced permit applicants and many others to travel from site to site to do business with the county. Under one roof, we’ll save on utilities and other fixed costs, and we’ll be able to better manage our workforce for higher levels of productivity. To reiterate: We will do all this without raising taxes.

Other goals identified at the beginning of my term as chairman have seen similar progress.

The county ordered new voting machines this year that will increase election efficiency and be more accommodating to people with disabilities and those whose first language is Spanish. The new machines will go into service in 2004, and they will augment our current inventory of machines so that voting lines are shorter in all precincts around the county.

We now have a Sergeant at Arms to help us run all of our Commission meetings smoothly and efficiently, and our agendas are now posted seven days prior to each meeting to give the public more time to study the issues before us.

Our Utility Department is well on its way to being a fully functional enterprise, which will coordinate billings, collections, maintenance and operations of a sophisticated and user-affordable countywide wastewater system, the benefits of which will be felt for generations to come. In November, we dedicated one of our new wastewater treatment facilities near Vado, which will serve 2,200 households in six rural communities.

The Board of County Commissioners and senior management have made tremendous progress toward improving our ability to evaluate our financial standings at any given point in time. Working with the County Treasurer’s Office and our Finance and Information Technology departments, we’re now able to track the county’s investments, cash accounts, expenditures and encumbrances with a far greater degree of sophistication than was available in the past. We also are making monthly cash reports part of our public agenda, and

we will soon hire an internal auditor to monitor all departments.

Of great importance to our rural constituents, the Board in 2003 eliminated a poorly executed solid-waste fee program that charged people for the privilege of hauling their own trash. Although the county forfeited about $1 million in annual revenue by eliminating the program, it was the Board majority’s contention that solid-waste services should not be used as a revenue stream that essentially constituted a new tax on county residents.

We have made many strides in a host of other areas. I attribute this to a professional staff and greatly enhanced communication at the top levels and down through the ranks.

We have management, staff and elected officials working more closely together and communicating more clearly to unite us in a common mission to serve our constituents.

When 2003 ends, I believe county government will be able to look back proudly at a year of progress and forward momentum that will carry strongly through to 2004 and beyond. On Dec. 19, I invite the public to the ceremonial groundbreaking of our new administrative complex on Motel Boulevard. When those shovels turn the first dirt, it will be an historic moment for Doña Ana County, and one that represents the great strides forward that we have made this year on behalf of all our residents.

When we in Doña Ana County refer to ourselves as our residents’ partner in progress, it’s not just an empty phrase. It’s the way we intend to do business.