Much like New Year’s resolutions, the Sandoval County Commission tentatively set goals for 2021 at the first meeting of the year.

Thursday night at the Sandoval County Administrative Building, Chairman David Heil, District 4, presented a list in progress to other commissioners for discussion.

A few of the goals on the list available on the county website under “meeting agendas” include:• Reduce positive COVID rates by 75 percent by encouraging testing and registering for vaccines;
• Lower unemployment to pre-COVID levels;
• Create over 300 jobs through economic development programs;
• Support programs that retrain unemployed people for new careers;
• Review county priorities as the county prepares the fiscal year 2021-22 budget; and
• Consider data that may determine how the county can improve customer service and manage expenses.

“These are all important goals for the commission to look into, but more refining is necessary,” said county spokesman Stephen Montoya.
Commissioner Jay Block, District 2, suggested removing reviewing priorities before the budget, saying it’s not a goal but “basic county operations.”

“I like the idea of a county and organization having goals so the citizens know where we are going, where we’re taking the county,” he said.

Some of the COVID goals on the list could be bundled and configured to the SMART model, said Commissioner Katherine Bruch, District 1.

The SMART model is:
• S-specific
• M-measurable
• A-attainable
• R-relevant
• T-time-based

“My key objective is getting our county open and helping businesses get back on their feet. To do this, we have to continue to follow COVID-safe practices, including wearing masks and social distancing,” she said. “We need to help each other during this very difficult time and encourage folks to register for a vaccine.”

Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald, District 5, suggested more education support programs through the county.

“Some of these employees we have have children that are young, and if we as a county can assist them, in form or manner, in getting some money available to them as they go along for a higher education, either through technical schools or through universities, it would entice employees to look at that,” he said.

Eichwald added this would be a long-term goal.

Heil said about $150,000 is available to employees for higher education, but he would like to add a program for employees’ children. He also suggested looking into the procurement process to buy from local small businesses to help them hire more employees and stimulate the economy.

There is no date set for goals to be finalized. To submit input, visit sandovalcountynm.gov and scroll down to the public comment section.

Also at the meeting:
* Heil was re-elected the chairman again and Commissioner Michael Meek, District 3, was elected vice chair.
* Bruch has picked to represent the county on the New Mexico Counties Executive Board.
* Nominees to serve on 2021 county boards and committees were approved. County manager Wayne Johnson noted they have not been able to find a Rio Rancho representative to serve on the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District board. The “largest city” position has been vacant for a long time. The board focuses more on the northern parts of the county and the largest city in the county is Rio Rancho, located in the southern part of the county, he said.
* Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance issuing the voter-approved library bond.
The next Sandoval County Commission meeting, set for Feb. 4 at 6 p.m., can be lived streamed at sandovalcountynm.gov, under “Quick links” in a tab called “Meeting videos.”

Staff writer at Rio Rancho Observer