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Rio Rancho council to vote on water rights loan

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City councilors are scheduled on Wednesday to vote on an application for a loan from the New Mexico Finance Authority to buy water rights.

City leaders say Rio Rancho currently has the opportunity to buy more than 400-acre-feet of water rights for about $4.8 million.

If approved, the loan would be repaid with a new $1 per month surcharge which would bring the total minimum monthly water rights charge to $6. The fee would be used to pay off the loan over a period of up to 20 years.

The city is required to purchase 728 acre-feet of water rights every five years over a 55-year period, under a permit issued in 2003 by the Office of the State Engineer.

In 2010 and 2011, the council passed ordinances to charge a $3 and a $2 monthly water rights acquisition fee. Revenue from this source has been committed to repay two prior NMFA loans and to fund other water rights offers. As of June 30, 2012, the balance of these loans was about $15.6 million.

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