Three outgoing county officials attended a budget conference at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa last week, continuing a pattern of lame duck travel at county expense.

Commissioners Nicklos Jaramillo and Andrew Chávez attended the budget conference Nov. 7 and 8, as did treasurer Evangeline Romero. Chávez lost a bid for reelection in the June Primary. Jaramillo and Romero will term out at the end of the year. Registration for the conference was $125 per person. Rooms for conference attendees were $89 a night. At least nine county employees and officials attended the conference.

Chávez told The Taos News he attended the conference to contribute his knowledge and experience to discussions on budget preparation and the relationship between the county and the state. “I’m an active participant. I ask questions and participate in the discussion and that’s why I attended,” Chávez said.

Apart from his registration fee, Chávez said he was asking to be reimbursed an additional $180 for mileage and per diem.

Jaramillo and Romero did not return messages for comment. Taos County did not confirm if Jaramillo or Romero had yet requested reimbursement by press time.

Last month, The Taos News reported that Jaramillo billed the county $554 to attend a training designed specifically for jail employees. Jaramillo has collected more than $4,000 in travel expenses this year.

The Taos News filed a public records request seeking all Taos County checks that had been written to the current county commissioners. The county produced a list showing that Jaramillo had collected $34,625 for travel over his 10 years as a commissioner. The list did not include at least two checks written to Jaramilllo that appear to be connected to his role with the Hondo-Seco Volunteer Fire Department (See related story on page A1). Travel reimbursements are in addition to the commissioners’ compensation of about $41,000 a year, including benefits.

State law prevents lame duck elected officials from traveling outside the state, but does not limit in-state travel. The law does not apply to officials who cannot seek reelection because of term limits.

J.R. Logan is a reporter for The Taos News.

(4) comments


Once a thief, always a thief. And why is the finance director attending a Beginners Excel class? I would think with her "degree" in accounting she would have mastered Excel by now. Boondoggle is what this is.


I am crossing my fingers that elected service in Taos County is no longer self-serving with the addition of newly elected commissioners. When Nick first ran for commissioner, I told people that if he got elected, he would work to extend his term beyond one two-year and one four-year term. Well, he did. I told people he was looking to get elected to feather his pockets and throw bones to family and friends. Well, he did. Should any of us be surprised when politics has really been a way to personal gain and lining one's pockets?

Southern NM Tiger Fan
Southern NM Tiger Fan

It doesn't make sense, why these individuals are going to these conferences, if they re not coming back in January. What a waste of tax payer's money. I feel in order to run for office the minimum requirements should be at least a BA degree, especially for the county commission. A high school diploma does not cut it. These commissioners and other county elected officials should also take a course in public speaking too.


Pfffffft! Waste of time and money. Yeah, I agree with you ElethaT. And how much did we pay in taxes to our Taos County Treasurer? Ridiculosssss!

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