New county manager says finances will be most challenging task

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He has been a city manager, a presidential appointee and a lot of things in between. And now Jeff Condrey, 58, can add Valencia County manager to his long list of administrative positions.

With only a handful of days at the county administration building, Condrey said he is getting up to speed on the county's most pressing issues and meeting with staff and elected officials to see where things stand.

"The staff is very professional and I'm lucky to have them," Condrey said. "All of the elected officials have been extremely helpful; they are all just good people."

After a thorough briefing by finance director Nick Telles, who served as the interim manager until Condrey was hired, Condrey said he is beginning to pinpoint areas that need work.

"Probably the most challenging area is our finances. The detention center is a nicely-run operation, but it also requires a lot of support from the general fund to keep operating," he said. "And as I go around to see the facilities, I see a lot of substandard equipment and facilities. A lot of things that are worn out and run down. There's real improvement needed in those areas."

With a background in economic development, Condrey says in order for the county to make progress in that area, it's important for the county to have a solid partnership with the five local municipalities.

"Our role is to be a good partner and help where we can," he said. "Cities have infrastructure that is important for the development of certain kinds of industries. But counties have the place for things like large solar developments and the like.

"The challenge is not everybody wants economic development, the want to maintain their rural, historic culture, and we have to respect that."

During the next few weeks, Condrey said his primary goal is to learn the issues in the county — both those that the commissioners feel are priorities, as well as the residents.

"It's still very much a steep learning curve. I'm learning the issues and capabilities of the staff," he said.

Condrey has held the positions of interim manager for the city of Española, town of Edgewood administrator, city of Las Vegas interim city manager, city of Raton manager and most recently executive staff assistant for McKinley County. Condrey has also served as a consultant to the town of Taos and San Miguel County.

Condrey was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002 as the state director for USDA Rural Development in New Mexico. He held that position for Bush's first term.

During that time, he was responsible for helping to enhance the quality of life in rural New Mexico by administering programs that provide low-cost financing for businesses, housing and infrastructure development.

Prior to his USDA appointment, Condrey was the director of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration's local government division during both terms of Gov. Gary Johnson.

In that capacity, he was responsible for about 1,200 statewide projects valued in excess of $200 million, as well as budget approval and monitoring of cities, counties and certain special districts.

Condrey served on the DWI Grant Council, the Community Development Council, which was responsible for the state's Community Development Block Grant program, and administered the state E911 grant program, which included the start up of statewide rural addressing.

He founded the annual New Mexico Infrastructure Finance Conference, now it its 19th year.

Condrey was the city manager for the city of Gallup from 1987 to 1991, where he directed and completed a $10 million capital improvement program that included a major wastewater treatment plant expansion and a 40-year water supply master plan.

Condrey's work also saw the construction of the Alcohol Crisis Center that enabled the permanent closure of Gallup's infamous "drunk tanks" in the city jail.

He served as the executive director of the Gallup/McKinley County Economic Development Group before his nomination by Gallup Mayor Edward Munoz to be city manager.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.