The Rio Rancho Governing Body has changed personnel rules to allow family members to work under the supervision of each other, if the governing body believes it’s in the best interest of the city.

At the governing body meeting Wednesday evening at City Hall, Councilor Bob Tyler introduced the amendment, saying the personnel policies hadn’t been updated since 1992.

Bob Tyler

Under the old policy, people related by marriage or blood to the third degree cannot work in positions in which one is under the direct or indirect supervision of the other. The third degree of kindred includes spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

However, relatives could already work in separate departments or in non-supervisory positions in the same department.

As examples of problems he saw with that rule, Tyler said the child of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services director wouldn’t be able to work as a pool lifeguard, and once a police officer had to retire so his wife could become deputy police chief.

“I don’t think those are necessarily fair to our employees,” Tyler said. “I don’t think it’s fair to keep folks out. I think we can do a better job of managing and looking at how people are employed and working through it.”

With the change, a governing body member, the city manager or the Human Resources Department director could seek a waiver of the existing rules. A majority of the governing body would have to determine the hire was in the best interest of the city and vote to approve it in a public meeting.

“I think that this is a direction that we need to go,” Tyler said. “I think it’s something that’s in the best interest of a lot of our employees and potential employees.”

Governing body members unanimously approved the amendment.

In other business, governing body members:

• Approved the final reading of Gross Receipts Investment Policy changes encouraging small business.

• Approved ordinance amendments that bring city building codes in line with state statute and create a committee to review and recommend revisions to a Development Processes Manual. The Rio Rancho Planning and Zoning Board and governing body would have to approve changes for them to take effect.

• Wrote off almost $433,000 in unpaid ambulance, utilities, parks and recreation, alarm and library fees. Financial Services Director Carole Jaramillo said the city had been trying to collect the debts for four years and would continue attempting to collect. The write-off makes the ledger more accurate, she said. City Attorney Greg Lauer said the governing body could institute a penalty system for unpaid debts if desired.