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Pay discussed for Kirtland mayor, trustees

Noel Lyn Smith
nsmith@daily-times.com
Kirtland Mayor Mark Duncan, center,  stands with members of the Town Council May 12 during a meeting at the Kirtland Youth Association building. The council is considering the idea of providing compensation for elected officials.

KIRTLAND – The Town Council discussed the possibility of compensating the mayor and trustees for their service during a regular meeting on Tuesday, but took no action.

Trustee Pete Emery said the subject was brought to his attention by the town’s attorney during a review of the town ordinance. A possible option could be paying the trustees for each council meeting while providing more compensation for the mayor, Emery said.

The mayor's higher compensation would be based on the responsibilities that come with the job, including setting the council's meeting agenda, managing employees and serving as the “voice and face” of the town, he said.

“He carries the town on his back,” Emery said.

Emery added that providing such compensation for elected officials is an option, but it is not mandated by state law, and there are towns that do not compensate elected officials, including Socorro, Eagle Nest and Tucumcari.

He added that Mayor Mark Duncan had indicated to him that he and the current members of the council may not need to be compensated because they are employed, but future elected officials may need the additional income to support their families.

Duncan was traveling Tuesday and did not attend the meeting.

Trustee Larry Hathaway said it might be best for the council to wait on deciding whether to provide the compensation because there are concerns about other expenses the town may need to address.

Trustee Thomas Wethington agreed with waiting to determine the matter but asked if eliminating compensation would also mean no per diem would be paid for mileage, since there are times when town officials travel to Santa Fe, the state capital, to address issues that impact Kirtland.

“I don’t think we need it right now,” Trustee Jason Heslop said.

The council did not issue a decision, and the matter will be taken up again at the March 8 meeting.

Trustees did vote 4-0 in favor to participate in a geospatial mapping project managed by San Juan County. The mapping will be conducted and complied by the county’s Geographic Information Systems Department, which uses the information to provide analysis and information about the cities and county for use by government departments and the public.

The cost for the mapping service depends on the quality of the images, Hathaway said.

Town Engineer Dan Flack said officials used the maps when setting the town limits, so it is a beneficial service.

“It makes it cleaner and more accurate,” Flack said.

The council also continued discussing the possibility of annexing the county-owned River View Golf Course and several industrial properties along U.S. Highway 64 between General Supply and the Desert Mountain Corp.

The annexation could help the town by providing it with revenue from gross receipts taxes.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.