By George Morse
Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative Board Meeting March 27, 2020
Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative (JMEC) held a Board Meeting on Friday, March 27 at the JMEC headquarters in Hernandez, NM. Nine board members were initially in attendance to call the board meeting to order with Board member Lucas Cordova en route. Board Member Bruce Duran was absent.
The first order of business was to sanction Board Member Duran for failing to submit a signed disclosure form. The disclosure form, titled the Personal And Business Relationships And Potential Claims Disclosure Report is a requirement for all JMEC Board of Trustee members to complete and file per Board of Trustees Policies. A copy of the policy can be found by clicking this link: Policy 137 ‘Conflict Of Interest Policy’. During discussion it was stated that this was the second year in a row that Duran has not submitted the disclosure report. A motion and vote was passed with a vote of seven (7) in the affirmative, one (1) “No” and one (1) abstention.
The Board then moved on and took action to approve the meeting minutes from its Feb. 20th meeting, as presented.
A report to the Board was given by Ernesto Gonzales on the immediate actions implemented by the administration in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic issue. Gonzales reported that immediate measures had been initiated throughout the organization for the protection and safety of all employees, customers and board members. This included:
- Per the Governor’s Executive Order of business closures exempting essential businesses and their employees, the JMEC administration moved immediately to comply with the Governor’s orders.
- JMEC is an ‘essential’ business entity necessary in relation to its services of assuring power to its customers; thus, JMEC is exempt from the Governor’s order.
- JMEC takes this responsibility serious and has moved to assure it ability to meet the needs of its employees and customers.
- New lobby hours are now 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Monday-Friday, effective immediately starting March 23.
- JMEC administrators have suspended any customers disconnections due to the current pandemic situation. The administration had initiated this policy prior to the PRC mandate earlier this month.
- A maximum of three (3) customers at a time will be allowed to occupy the customer service lobby for business purposes only.
- JMEC wants to assure that every precautionary measure is being taken to protect employees and customers in compliance with the Center for Disease Control issued and recommended guidelines.
- “Essential” staff has been identified by the administration and rotating shifts have been implemented in order to assure meeting the needs of customers.
- Linemen and all staff are on-call in order to continue meeting the needs of the customers.
- Employees who are non-essential have been placed on administrative leave with pay.
- Customers are urged to limit their contact with office employees through paying bills online, dropping off payments in the outside drop boxes or calling in billing requests.
- JMEC is absorbing all credit charge fees and waiving phone-in charges during this time.
- JMEC Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Teresa Chavez reported that the Co-op has initiated a payment service plan with Century Bank to accommodate JMEC consumers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers may pay their electric bill with a cash or a check payment. If paying by check, make checks payable to “Jemez Electric Mountains Cooperative.” This service is expected to be available Monday, March 30. Customers are asked to bring their electric bill with them to the bank. This service is only available at the Espanola branch location.
The financial report was made by Board Treasurer Johnny Jaramillo who reported to the Board that New Mexico Mutual was paid $39,000 for workman’s comp insurance; Attorney’s fees were $57,052.00; Credit card charges were $2,941.26; and, Consulting fees were $13,231.00. CFO Chavez presented the financial report for February:
- The Co-op had a cash balance of $12,918,740. There were deposits of $4,857,238 for a balance of $17,775,977.
- The Co-op made $5,580,336 in disbursements for a combined total cash balance of $13,210,773 for all accounts. That included $547,342 in investment and a $2,277,789 cushion of credit.
Board action was also taken to approve the bid offer by Bell Lumber in the amount of $23,434 for transmission line poles.
The Board passed action to amend Policy 145, ‘Election Policy’. Specifically the Board presented the proposed amendments to Policy #5, ‘candidate qualifications’ resulting in an expansion of the fiduciary obligations of board members in regards to the general guidelines governing the campaigns for elections. Proposed amendments adopted summarily reflected:
- Be familiar and understand the Trustees Code of Conduct Board policy.
- Be willing to submit to a background check.
- Be a member in good standing with the Cooperative.
- Residency requirements for candidates residing in rental units and providing sufficient documentation for residing within the district.
After a lengthy discussion, the amendments to the policy passed. This action called for a response to recent elections where false accusations and defamatory comments, such as criminal activity and corruption, were claimed against seated Board Members. In discussion, the Board reflected on how these sorts of comments were used to self-promote interests of candidates seeking JMEC board positions. The Board called for the need to have clean and fair elections without the use of defamatory comments against individuals and/or the Co-op.
Adjournment of the Board followed the passing of the amended election policy.
Next meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 24 at 9:00 AM in the JMEC Board Room.