By Jim Owen

The Bayard City Council on Monday approved a 2014-15 fiscal-year budget that lists $9,370,510 in anticipated expenditures. That is about the same as the $9,207,293 budgeted for the previous fiscal year.

The figures include money for infrastructure projects that is provided, in the form of grants and loans, by the state and federal governments. The city's actual expenditures from July 2013 through June 2014 were just $3,996,982 because several major projects scheduled to be completed during the year were delayed. The cost of those projects are included in the 2014-15 budget.

During Monday's meeting, a representative of the Silver City-based Engineers Inc. updated councilors on the projects.

The most expensive endeavor involves the use of treated wastewater to irrigate the city cemetery, ball fields around Snell Middle School and the Little League fields. The New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee gave Bayard a $3.8 million grant to construct and install water re-use equipment, erect buildings and install transmission lines. Tatsch Construction Co. expects to complete the work by February.

Another large initiative entails the replacement of all residents' city water meters with devices that can be monitored automatically. Currently, Bayard employees must go door to door to manually read meters. The project, which is to begin in January, will include replacement of a main waterline on Railroad Street.

Funding for the meters, transmitter equipment and waterline came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the form of an $837,600 grant and $109,000 loan; and from the state Legislature, which approved an appropriation of $234,000.

City officials will soon issue a "request for proposals" from engineering firms to plan and design a new street crossing. A culvert is to be installed, likely next March, to connect East Street with the intersection of Stewart and Foy streets.

The culvert is needed because flooding washes out the crossing, preventing residents and emergency-services providers from accessing that part of town. Funding for the project, obtained from the federal Community Development Block Grant program and the New Mexico Transportation Department's Local Government Road Fund, totals $463,654.

Bayard's first municipal cemetery, south of town, is expected to be completed in September. Southwest Concrete & Paving is doing the work. Bayard received two legislative appropriations totaling $400,000 for the design and construction.

Another water-system improvement, originally approved in 2013, is to include an assessment of the system's capacity, the rehabilitation of wells and the design of a water transmission line reroute. The federal Colonias Infrastructure Program awarded Bayard a $376,084 grant and $41,787 loan for the project, which is being engineered by Balleau Groundwater Inc.

The council also discussed a plan to spend $117,138 from local cash reserves and Local Government Road Fund outlays to chip-seal 20 segments of town streets.

The new budget calls for a pay raise of at least 50 cents per hour for all employees. Some will get a bit more than that. City Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Ortiz reported that department supervisors requested he salary increases. She said councilors "try to do it every year," depending upon the city's finances.

"Even though the economy is struggling, we're holding steady," Ortiz told the Beat.

In other business, the council agreed to pay the expenses of two City Hall staffers to attend a required one-day workshop for the Community Development Block Grant program this week. Also approved was a one-day trip to Albuquerque in September by city employee Victor Castillo for a utility-operator certification workshop.

Live from Silver City

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