Angel Fire streets department will support local store, supervisor says

By Jesse Chaney<br />Managing editor

By Jesse Chaney<br />Managing editor

Following an Oct. 4 meeting with the owner of Angel Fire’s only auto-parts store, Angel Fire Streets Department Supervisor Frank Salois said “we’re not totally excluding him anymore.”

“We had a good meeting with him and everything, and I think we’re going to go forward with it pretty good,” Salois said Monday (Oct. 8). “Still, of course, with the village, we have to get the best price.”

Fidel Valdez said he purchased Valley Auto Parts in Angel Fire and renamed it Professional Auto Parts on Sept. 1, 2011, and the streets department has been spending more with competitors in other towns ever since.

Of the total amount the Angel Fire streets department has spent on auto parts, 48 percent went to the local store during the year before Valdez took over and 1.6 percent the year after, according to village purchasing records.

The local store got $4,727.04 of the department’s $9,834.39 in auto-parts expenditures from Sept. 1, 2010 to Aug. 31, 2011 and $724.97 of the department’s $44,442.23 in expenditures during the same time in 2011-12.

In the four years before Valdez bought the local store, it received an average of 19.4 percent of the total amount the streets department spent on auto parts. The local store received $8,631.44 of the department’s $44,375.05 in auto-parts expenditures from Sept. 1, 2007 to Aug. 31, 2011.

Angel Fire Mayor Barbara Cottam directed questions about the expenditures to Salois, who said he expects the streets department to spend more with the local store under the direction of new Public Works Director Rick Tafoya. The new director replaced Clyde “Butch” Steinman, who retired at the end of September.

“We’re starting new — starting fresh,” Salois said. “…We have a new director, and I’m streets superintendent.”

When contacted by the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle in September, Steinman would not say why the streets department has spent less with the local store since Valdez bought it.

Salois said the streets department turned to NAPA retailer Zeke’s Auto Supply in Taos for many of its purchases in the last year due to the village’s roughly $10,000 credit with the store. The village exchanged some unneeded parts for the store credit slightly more than a year ago, he said.

“(The parts) were still in the package, all brand-new stuff, and it was just on equipment that we didn’t have anymore,” he said. “They bought every bit of that back. That was a good deal with us to start with.”

Salois said the streets department began to develop a closer working relationship with the Taos store, which did not charge the village for deliveries to Angel Fire.

“It just kind of got away,” he said. “It just kind of fell into dealing straight with NAPA over there.”

The village has now used much of its credit with the Taos store, Salois said. The streets department has no obligation to continue shopping there, he said, though “we’re still going to probably work with them, plus we’re working with Mr. Valdez here.”

Salois said the streets department purchases some supplies such as oil and tires in bulk through a contract with the state of New Mexico, which is a common practice for local governments.

“They can do that through the state, and it’s way cheaper than anyone else,” he said.

In addition, Salois said the department usually purchases heavy equipment directly from dealers for warranty reasons.

“A lot of our heavy equipment, we don’t have much of a choice there,” he said.

But Professional Auto Parts carries an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the supplies the streets department needs, Salois said, and village officials will use the local store more frequently if it offers the best prices.

“We don’t do bids,” he said. “We just always go with who gives us the best price.”

Valdez said he offers the same inventory as the prior owner of his store and has lowered prices for the village of Angel Fire. He said he is most interested in selling filters to the village, and he is working on a price quote for all of the streets department’s equipment.

“I feel comfortable my prices will definitely be whatever you get anywhere else,” he said. “…I think that it’s going to work out.”