Local governments and other entities didn’t get all they requested in the recent legislative session, but they didn’t come away empty-handed,either. And for that, Gov. Susana Martinez earns a word of appreciation for signing several bills allocating important funds to our area.
The beneficiaries include Sandoval County, which will receive funds to open a small business innovation center, The ASK Academy, Cibola Little League, A Park Above and Rio Rancho Public Schools, which plans to enhance security at several schools.
The City of Rio Rancho anticipates being able to purchase eight new police vehicles for $337,000, and to pour about $965,000 into Westside Boulevard improvements, thanks to the measures signed by the governor.
It will also receive $1.4 million for its just-started water line replacement project as well as $100,000 for a new well.
To be sure, that was about $60,000 short of what the city sought for the line replacements, and $3.7 million below what it requested for the well. In that respect, the city was far from alone. Very few multi-million-dollar projects were approved.
Nonetheless, by signing off on the appropriations, the governor followed through on the support her administration expressed for the two projects during the session.
The funding for the water line comes as the city embarks on a massive project to replace, with copper pipes, almost 15,000 polyethylene water services lines that have been the source of constant leaks. The city estimates the project will cost almost $22 million.
The city council in 2012 decided to raise household water rates each year through 2017, with a certain percentage, or about a million dollars a year, of the increase set aside to replace the lines.
The new funding could soften the impact of the next increase due to take effect in July – if the council, as it did last year, reduces the scheduled rate by the amount corresponding to what the city received. That remains to be seen, but the state funds remain a welcome investment in the city’s infrastructure.