By Jim Owen
During Monday's regular meeting of the Bayard City Council, officials announced that construction of a municipal cemetery will begin Monday, July 7.
Councilors last month accepted a bid of $274,427 from Southwest Concrete & Paving Inc. of Silver City to do the project, on the east side of U.S. 180 south of town.
The work will include a paved access road off the highway, paved roads within the cemetery, and a concrete ceremony area. The contractor will allow for irrigation conduit to be installed under the roads.
Councilors also moved forward on another project, the replacement of residents' home water meters with devices that can be read automatically, by awarding the contract for planning and design to the Silver City-based Engineers Inc.
A second element of the project is to be the removal of a 4-inch water main, and installation of an 8-inch line, along Hurley Street near the railroad tracks. The plan is to improve the water volume and pressure for residents in the northeast part of town.
The federal and state governments are covering the bulk of the cost of the meters and waterline. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved an $837,600 grant, and the state Legislature has made $234,000 in appropriations. The city will take out a $109,000 loan to pay its share of the expenses.
City officials expect to be notified next month whether the federal government has approved their application for a $425,000 Community Development Block Grant. They want to build a permanent arroyo crossing to link Stewart Street with East Street. The route becomes impassable during heavy rains, preventing residents and emergency-services providers from accessing that part of the town.
City Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Ortiz plans to advocate for the funding during her presentation at an upcoming CDBG hearing in Albuquerque. The council voted to pay her expenses to attend the hearing, as well as workshops and other CDBG meetings as necessary.
Councilors also agreed to send as many as eight members of the council and staff to a New Mexico Municipal League conference in Albuquerque in August.
Ortiz announced that the "annual, standard increase" in utility rates will go into effect next month. For residential properties, the fee for water, sewer, landfill and garbage services will rise $1.23 per month.
The rate hike for commercial customers will vary, depending upon the number of garbage bins and frequency of pickups. Small businesses will see a $1.80-per-month bump in their bills.
Resident Kathleen Herrera spoke during Monday's meeting about the need for speed bumps on Franey Street. She and others have reported motorists speeding and failing to observe stop signs. Property owners along the street will meet with Maintenance Department employees to determine where to install speed bumps.
In other business, the council:
-- Voted to terminate Steven Jimenez, who had been a Maintenance Department employee for 22 years;
-- Agreed to renew the city's contract for legal services with the Silver City law firm of Lopez, Dietzel and Perkins; and
-- Urged residents to exercise caution if they use fireworks, because of the fire threat posed by dry conditions.