BERNALILLO — Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to declare Sandoval County an emergency area, on Thursday night, at the Sandoval County Commission meeting.

This, allows the county to apply for state and federal funding to local governments if needed. As of press time, there are six cases of COVID-19 in Sandoval County.

Sandoval County Fire Chief Eric Masterson said firefighters and emergency personal are taking all the necessary precautions.

This resolution was a response to the federal and state public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus. The county complied by making changes in internal operation, canceling public meetings and reducing staff in facilities, according to the resolution.

At the Sandoval County Administration Building, an amendment to the resolution gave the county manager, with the finance director, the authority to sign contracts up to $200,000 without the commission’s approval.

The previous amount the county manager and finance director could sign for was $60,000. Once the county leaves its emergency status June 30, these emergency powers will be void.

If these powers were to be used, money would have to be allocated from the budget, said County Attorney Robin Hammer.

“I have not had to do that except for one time with the detention center. But it had been approved by you overall. So this would be no more than $200,000 with one contract,” said County Manager Dianne Maes.

Maes said if she had to use this power she would consult the chairman or involved county staff with the finance director.

Hammer said the county does not have any plans to enact this power. It’s a precaution.

The next county commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 2 at the Sandoval County Administration Building.

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Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer