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The Greenlee County Board of Supervisors agreed last week to schedule a workshop soon to discuss rewriting the county’s planning and zoning ordinances, something that hasn’t been done in 20 years.

Greenlee County Administrator Derek Rapier asked the board for permission to shift some of the county’s economic development budget so the county can rewrite its zoning ordnances with an eye toward streamlining the process and attracting more developers and businesses to the area.

“The philosophy we’ve been working under the last year is how do we make what we have to do effective so people who want to put their private investment dollars on the ground can do so with a minimum of government red tape,” Rapier said after the meeting.

The county already has the lowest combined tax rate in the state, so making sure the process is streamlined is another way to make the area more attractive to both small businesses and home builders that might want to come to the area, he said.

The county might want to consider changing its zoning in regards to housing, Rapier said. While many communities allow one residential property for every acre, Greenlee County currently only allows one residence per 36 acres.

If someone only wanted one acre, they’d have to seek a variance, which can be a deterrent, Rapier said.

In other economic development news, Rapier, Lunt, Supervisor David Gomez and assistant economic development coordinator Erica Gonzalez were scheduled to visit Las Cruces and Hatch, N.M. Tuesday and Wednesday for a “watching and listening tour.”

Rapier said both communities have found innovative ways to do mixed housing and they hope to learn from them. Of specific interest to them, is how they paid for infrastructure, such as roads and sewage lines, he said.

In other action during the meeting, the supervisors directed Rapier to research the impact 3% and 5% employee raises would have on the county’s budget. Because of the concerns raised last year about COVID-19’s impact on state shared revenue, county employees did not get a raise last year.

In addition, the supervisors agreed that even though the county’s insurance carrier raised healthcare premiums by 3%, they did not want to pass on that raise to employees. They agreed the county would continue to split health insurance costs with employees by a ratio of 86% to 14%.

In other action, the supervisors agreed to allow Rapier to hire a consultant to get a “ballpark estimate” on how much it would cost the county to replace or remodel the existing jail.

Rapier also advised the supervisors he will be bringing to them different models to address the IT needs of the county when it comes to cyber security and warned them there would be some “sticker shock.”

The county’s insurance company has raised its deductible from $10,000 per incident to $150,000 and is projecting the rate will soon go up to $1 million per incident, Rapier said.

“At $1 million a pop, we can’t stay in business very long,” Rapier said.

Although it would be great to have an “in-house” cyber expert, they are nearly impossible to find, Rapier said.

There has been some talk of counties and municipalities building a consortium and he’ll look into that some more, Rapier said.

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