(Press Staff Photo by Hannah Dumas)
Bayard Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Ortiz congratulates Officer Jesse Lopez, after he was presented a letter of commendation by Police Chief Hector Carrillo for his “successful investigation of a breaking-and-entering and burglary of a dwelling, which resulted in the apprehension of two offenders of the crime.”
The Bayard City Council and several of the city’s staff members discussed employee retention at length during the council’s regular meeting Monday. Several policy changes regarding overtime and paid time off were approved, along with a plan presented by Police Chief Hector Carrillo that will provide all city employees with a retention bonus and new Police Department hires with a sign-on bonus.
While six officer positions are budgeted for the Police Department, Carrillo said, one position has not been filled for roughly six years. In order to attract quality certified officers, he presented a plan to “eliminate, at least for this year, the sixth position, and use that money … to give officers a hiring sign-on bonus for coming to the Bayard Police Department.”
Carrillo noted that he has received interest from two certified officers who he feels would be good additions to the city’s department, and hopes to secure their employment by offering sign-on bonuses. Additionally, Carrillo is set to attend a job fair in Las Cruces later this month, where he hopes offering a sign-on bonus will encourage more prospective officers to apply for the department’s three unfilled positions.
While councilors responded favorably, they did ask that two-year contracts be tied to the bonus offers. They also commended Carrillo for offering to share the funds made available through sacrificing the sixth officer position. Through his plan, not only will newly hired officers receive a bonus, but all city employees would receive a retention bonus.
Council members were all in favor of the plan, especially in light of Councilor Eloy Medina’s report that several unhappy employees had been looking for work elsewhere. Mayor Chon Fierro and Councilor Frances Gonzales were quick to express concern.
“Words like ‘hostile’ and ‘angry’ and ‘upset’ are coming out,” Medina said. “We need to get this under control and get it fixed, because our employees are what make us.”
“I really hope that we can rectify or work something out, so we can keep these people,” Gonzales said.
Fierro agreed that the issue is a top priority.
A complaint by Utility Clerk Tanya Ortiz was also vaguely addressed by Fierro and Medina, but that discussion was brought to a halt by Councilor Jose Diaz, who urged the council to restrict conversation regarding the personnel matter to executive session.
Gonzales led the charge in coming city staff for their hard work and devotion. Bayard Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Ortiz and Fierro echoed her comments, especially highlighting Maintenance Superintendent Anthony Aveles and the manner in which his crew addressed and resolved a recent late-night water leak.
Carrillo presented Officer Jesse Lopez with a letter of commendation honoring his successful investigation of a breaking-and-entering and burglary of a Bayard residence, which led to two arrests.
“Your participation, conduct and dedication in this investigation reflects greatly on you and the department,” Carrillo said.
Those present applauded Lopez, and several thanked him for his service.
Carrillo also provided an update on an ongoing complaint by residents Steve and Lori Gabaree about M&M Bayard Auto Service. He noted that the shop’s owner, Matthew Valenzuela, has been cooperating with the department’s recent request to move several vehicles that are in violation of city code.
During public input, resident Manuel Garcia asked for an update on expected improvements to Dayhill Street, which have yet to occur. He also asked the status of expected repairs to railroad crossings on Poplar and Vanadium streets.
Clerk-Treasurer Ortiz responded that the repairs to the crossings would likely begin in August. Aveles apologized that work on Dayhill Street has yet to occur as promised, and cited difficulties in securing the necessary equipment.
Resident Selina Crespin also addressed the council, asking for an update on legal action against former Chief of Police Lee Alirez. As she was one of the residents who reported being harassed by Alirez, she asked why the city’s attorney has yet to reach out to her.
“What he did here affected us, and me in particular, and I’ve never been asked by a law firm that the city has to say how it affected me and any of us local residents,” she said. “I would like to know how that stands.”
While Clerk-Treasurer Ortiz responded that she wasn’t able to provide a public response, she did offer to pass Crespin’s contact information along to the city’s “representatives.”
Crespin also asked for an update on the city’s plan to turn the Local 890 Union Hall into a museum.
“We transferred the property, so now it’s a matter of getting funding to update the building,” Clerk-Treasurer Ortiz responded.
The next Bayard City Council regular meeting is set for June 27 at 6 pm at City Hall. A work session is scheduled prior to the meeting, beginning at 5:30 pm
Hannah Dumas may be reached at [email protected] press.com.