Governing body confirms mayor’s city councilor choice


New District 2 City Councilor Jeremy Lenentine, far right, takes his oath of office Wednesday as, from left, Acting City Clerk Yolanda Lucero administers the oath, City Councilors Marlene Feuer and Jim Owen look on and Lenentine’s wife, Sarah Lenentine, holds the Bible.
(Argen Marie Duncan/ Rio Rancho Observer)

The Rio Rancho Governing Body has confirmed a new city councilor.

At their meeting Wednesday evening at City Hall, governing body members voted 5-1 to confirm Mayor Gregg Hull’s appointment of Jeremy Lenentine to the District 2 city council seat. City Councilor Jim Owen cast the dissenting vote.

“Don’t take any of this personally,” Owen said. “… I find the résumé for Jeremy to be a little light.”

Owen said Lenentine has good character, but the job of city councilor involves more than character.

Councilor Dave Bency said he and Councilor Bob Tyler talked with Lenentine before the meeting.

“I was impressed with his ability to absorb stuff quickly,” Bency said of Lenentine. “His attitude is very forward-looking.”

Bency said Lenentine, as a young family man, represents the “silent majority of Rio Rancho.” The city has a median age of 34, he said.

Lenentine replaces Dawnn Robinson, who moved to Atlanta with her family after her husband obtained a job there. Hull appointed him from among six applicants, contingent upon confirmation from the rest of the governing body.

Robinson was elected to her second four-year term in 2018. Lenentine’s term runs to March 2020, when the District 2 voters will choose a councilor to represent them until the 2022 election.

Also at the meeting, the governing body voted to adjust the budget to pass through the fee for collection organization Municipal Services Bureau to continue seeking payment of unpaid court fines and fees.

Municipal Judge G. Robert Cook said the court had recently entered into an agreement with the company to collect bad debt. Municipal Services Bureau collects the payment owed plus an extra 14 percent as its fee, and sends the entire sum to City Hall.

The court must then provide the 14-percent fee out of its own budget. The budget adjustment transferred $5,000 from City Hall to the court to cover the fee for the rest of the fiscal year.

“The good news is collections are up,” Cook said.

He added that collection of bad debt for the municipal court was higher than predicted, setting a record.

Cook asked for $3,000. Acting City Manager John Craig suggested and the governing body approved $5,000 to make sure the adjustment would be enough even if collections continued climbing above expectations.

Craig said the expense of moving the money to the court would equal the income from collections.

The budget adjustment request had included another $5,000 for courtroom renovations, but Cook said the court staff had already covered the cost by putting off computer purchases. They’re getting new carpet and paint now, he said, and will need new chairs next fiscal year.

In other business, governing body members:

Heard Hull proclaim April as World Autism Awareness Month in Rio Rancho. An event revolving around autism is set for 10 a.m. to noon May 4 at A Park Above. It will provide information and resources for autism, as well as activities such as a dance-off.

Approved an application for financial assistance from the New Mexico Finance Authority. The money would reimburse the developer of Los Diamantes subdivision for water and sewer infrastructure installed to serve Joe Harris Elementary School.

Approved the first reading of an ordinance authorizing a loan from the New Mexico Finance Authority for up to about $12.2 million to buy more water rights.

Approved updates to the procurement code.