I guess we should forgive Commissioner Debbie O’Malley’s inaccurate statements in her op-ed column in the June 24 Journal. As she stated, she is “the newly-elected commissioner,” and I guess she has a lot to learn about the unincorporated area of Bernalillo County.
First, Public Service Electric only services a small portion of the East Mountains; the vast majority of homes are served by Central New Mexico Cooperative, which means owned by the people who are members of the cooperative.
Guess who pays if a fee is charged whenever they need to use a right-of-way easement if a Utility Franchise Fee Bill is passed? Speaking of easements, they belong to the property owner and are granted to the county just for such purposes as putting in utilities and other infrastructure. We would, in effect, pay a fee to let a utility use land that we granted to the county, who would then charge a fee that we, the homeowners would eventually pay.
The vast majority of easements in the East Mountains are dirt. We don’t have paved sidewalks and returning an easement to its original state after digging a trench to put in a utility is relatively easy. Not long ago, Qwest, now Century Link, dug along the easement from NM 14 in Sandia Park to NM 344 in Edgewood to put in a fiber optic line. They used a special piece of equipment that drilled down and then under roads and paved driveways, so as to not disturb them. This line went on for miles and when they were done they returned the easement to its original condition. It is a bike and horse path, and you wouldn’t even know that they put in the line.
O’Malley also said the citizens of Albuquerque are subsidizing the road repairs in the East Mountains. She should compare the property tax bill of someone in Albuquerque to someone in the East Mountains; if anything, we are paying taxes that benefit Albuquerque more than the East Mountains.
I wonder what the ratio of East Mountain residents versus Albuquerque residents that get free services at University of New Mexico Hospital is, yet we pay the same tax on our property taxes.
I could go on, but O’Malley should not, as my dad used to say, “compare apples to oranges.” The East Mountains are entirely different from the city of Albuquerque. While we give up a piece of our property for an easement, she wants to add insult to injury by, in effect, adding a back-door tax to the unincorporated area by charging a Utility Franchise Fee that we will eventually, through higher utility costs, wind up paying for what in effect is our own land to start with.