BERNALILLO – Local government leaders in the Rio Rancho area are pushing to hold their own elections and get state money for local projects during the next legislative session.
Rio Rancho Mayors Gregg Hull, Jack Torres from Bernalillo and Jo Anne Roake from Corrales, and Sandoval County Administrator Wayne Johnson discussed their legislative priorities Tuesday morning at the Sandoval Economic Alliance breakfast. It was in person at the county administration building and was also streamed live.
When it comes to brick and mortar projects, Johnson said extending the Volcano Walk to I-40 is the county’s top priority.
“We see PDVSA as one of the keys to economic development and growth on the west side of the river,” he said.
The county is also prioritizing a more permanent animal shelter, which Johnson hopes will have an emergency vet clinic.
Third, Sandoval County is requesting state money to add to the funding it already has for a new public safety complex.
“We’ve been chasing the rabbit, so to speak, over the construction costs of this building for two, probably three years,” he said.
County leaders also want to remodel 13the Judicial District Court building to have more courtrooms. To accommodate the growth in cases over the next 15 years, Johnson hopes the sheriff’s office will relocate from the district court to the proposed public safety complex, remodel the vacant space, and have the Sandoval County Magistrate Court relocate. move to the district court building.
Finally, Johnson and the county commission want to remodel the administration building to convert the third floor commission chambers into offices and move the chambers to a new building next to the current administration building for more convenience, security and office space. extended.
Hull highlighted a long list of project funding requests.
“The state said they have a silly amount of cash, so we’re going to ask for a silly amount of money, right?” he said.
Among those “requests” are $ 1.8 million for the next phase of Campus Park, $ 1.3 million for the next phase of the Broadmoor Senior Center and multiple requests for public safety vehicles. City leaders are also expecting $ 350,000 to rehabilitate the Sabana Grande Recreation Center.
“It’s a heavily used facility, one of our original buildings, and it really needs some attention right now,” Hull said.
He said the city opposes any legislation that diminishes autonomous authority, including its ability to administer its own elections. He said he was concerned that mixing municipal issues with those of other jurisdictions on a ballot would cause confusion.
“It distresses me a little when we want to pass nonpartisan elections to a partisan elected official to oversee them,” Hull added. “We have done very well with our elections in the last 40 years, so we would like to make sure we continue with that.”
The city’s legislative priorities also include additional mental health resources and money to help public safety workers help people in crisis; have the state continue to waive payments to local governments to make up for lost revenue when the gross food income tax was removed; and allow people who obtained retirement benefits from the Public Employees Retirement Association, especially law enforcement officers, to return to work without losing their benefits.
Torres said members and employees of Bernalillo’s governing body also preferred to run their own municipal elections.
“Just changing the date, from March to November, would not be good for our community,” he said.
Torres said Bernalillo leaders oppose the removal of the liability waiver provisions, but support behavioral health resources, especially crisis intervention teams that would work with multiple agencies, and return-to-work provisions for retirees. by PERA.
“It affects us all,” Torres said of the return-to-work rules.
Torres said return-to-work provisions should include restrictions to prevent abuse, but would like to allow employees of law enforcement, fire, and water or sewer systems to return to work after retirement because it is difficult fill those positions.
Unlike the county, he and other members of the Bernalillo governing body oppose the extension of PDVSA.
“… The biggest concerns we have really take into account the impact on our community in terms of additional traffic through 550,” he said.
If 75,000 or more cars travel US 550 every day on the way to PDVSA or other places, Torres said, the highway would not be able to handle the load, making it difficult for city businesses to access and therefore hurting your income.
Torres and other Bernalillo leaders also want the legislature to cap interest rates on payday loans to 36 percent.
“They take dollars from their community,” Torres said of payday lenders.
When it comes to brick and mortar projects, Bernalillo representatives are asking for $ 15 million to upgrade the town’s wastewater treatment plant, several million more to improve the water system, and $ 5 million for a new fire station to expand the facilities. services.
Roake, who is not running for reelection, spoke last.
“We are in the same boat with regard to many of the problems that we face, particularly the local municipal authority and autonomy,” he said.
The state has passed cannabis and civil rights legislation without thinking about cities like Corrales, he said, raising concerns about future legal and financial liabilities. Like Rio Rancho and Bernalillo, Corrales leaders want to hold their own local elections.
In terms of projects, Corrales is asking for $ 16.5 million to install a sewer system, protecting more than 1,500 homes, he said. The town does not have a water and sewerage system, so most residents use wells and septic tanks.
“We really think there are some problems with our groundwater. We really need to turn around and look for a decent type of sewage sewer connection, ”he said.
A sewer system won’t affect wells, Roake said, but it will protect groundwater quality.
Village leaders are also asking for money for a fire truck, police equipment, building renovations, and $ 10 million for a multi-generational center for economic and cultural events.
“I hope we succeed in getting some traction on our largest applications,” said Roake.