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Corrales to ask voters $2M question

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Corrales councilors have approved a resolution that will allow village voters to decide whether to issue $2 million in bonds to pay for wastewater hook-ups and expanding the wastewater system.

Municipal election ballots in Corrales will ask voters if they approve issuing $500,000 in bonds to help property owners connect to the controversial wastewater line along Corrales Road, between Wagner Lane and Meadowlark Lane.

Another question will ask them if they approve $1.5 million in bonds to help expand the wastewater service to other neighborhoods nearby, which the question calls “immediate needs areas.”

If voters support the full $2 million in new debt, it would increase the annual property tax bill on a home valued at $150,000 by $5.20 in 2014, according to figures provided to Mayor Phil Gasteyer by the investment firm George K. Baum & Co.

The bond questions were included in a resolution calling for the municipal election to be held on March 4. Councilors voted 5-1 in favor, Councilor John Alsobrook was opposed.

“The idea that we would get additional bond money toward expanding a system when we don’t have the full costing in place – I just wasn’t comfortable with that,” Alsobrook said in an interview this week.

Councilor Ennio Garcia-Miera, who voted for the resolution, shares those concerns, but he believes that it’s important to assist residents with the cost of connection.

“Since we unfortunately got ourselves into this (the wastewater project) – we need to do something to help people to hook up,” Garcia-Miera said.

Corrales currently has no sewer system. Residents depend on septic systems and concern about possible groundwater contamination from those systems in the densely populated area along Corrales Road spurred the wastewater project.

Many residents have opposed it, saying a centralized waste-handling system would be too costly and isn’t needed. Construction work on a liquids-only system was completed about a year ago but it is still not operational.

Councilors passed an ordinance in May making connection to the system voluntary.

Residents and businesses along the wastewater line route can either pay all the initial hookup cost upfront or pay 20 percent and repay the balance to the village over 10 years.

Gasteyers told councilors at a meeting in October that Souder Miller, the company that engineered the project, estimates the hookup cost at between $11,500 and $13,500, depending on how much piping and electrical wire must be installed.

Those who connect will still need a septic system to handle solid waste.

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