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ICIP priorities presented to legislators, Part 2

Editor's Note: This is part 2 of the Silver City and Solid Waste Authority presentation about capital outlay to Sen. Howie Morales, and Reps. Rodolpho "Rudy" Martinez and Dianne Hamilton. This is part of a series of at least six articles.

The communities and the county concentrated their efforts on the priorities in the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan that each is required to have.

Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments Executive Director Priscilla Lucero pointed out that when contracts from the state take a long time, "we are losing money to the community, losing jobs and the engineers aren't getting paid, when the state is nit-picky."

Silver City Town Manager Alex Brown said the town always does the pre-engineering before requesting funding. "We're waiting for the contracts, so we can send them to the Environment Department, so we can go out to bid."

Martinez said it seemed the NMED wants to re-engineer everything, even if it is already approved by the USDA.

Brown said one individual in particular "always takes all of his 30 days even on something he has already approved."

Martinez said re-engineering requirements also cost the communities additional dollars.

Morales said he would have a discussion with the secretary of the department.

Lucero said she would like the communities to present their projects to the Colonias Infrastructure Fund, so the members can ask the community representatives any questions.

"I want to assure you that this year, as well as last year, we looked at these projects thoroughly and looked at other funding options and are ready to go on them," Brown said.

Morales asked if No. 5 were already funded, would No. 6 move up.

"Yes, because they are prioritized," Brown said. "Others that we think need to be done, we may do sooner so we may re-arrange the following ones."

Brown said the town wants to bond out for 15 years for each 1/8 increment, so "we have revolving funding available, while we're getting other funding. That way we will have match funding, for example to make the $5 million we have leverage to $8 million."

He said the Department of Finance and Administration wants money to be taken advantage of so "you look good, make the departments look good and make us look good."

"I am proud to represent Silver City and to hear how well the town manages its projects," Morales said. "During the Legislative Finance Committee meeting, I heard a tribute to you guys."

Brown said his deputy finance director is moving, but "everything is already ready for the next audit. I hope to have a smooth transition."

He also reported the town's gross receipts tax is the highest "we've every received. In 2000, we got $4.6 million. This year, we got $8.8 million, and we are already 10 percent above that."

Morales asked if the town was going after any colonias funding.

"We are waiting for the contract and want to use Engineers Inc.," Brown said. "Hurley has already done its part of the project of the regional water plan. The only one not included accidentally was Hanover, and we want to add it.

"We are applying for 1,000 acre-feet of water and already identifying other funding, such as the Water Revolving Fund," Brown continued. "If we use renewable energy, we can get a 50 percent grant, and if it is an underserved area, an additional 25 percent, so it would help Hurley get the well field at 25 percent of the cost."

He said the town never intends to get any of the water to Silver City, but "it is in our best interest to get the water for the other communities."

Brown said the town might do a study on Mountain View Road, which is the only area within the city limits without sewer. Tyrone has gone out to bid to tie into the town's sewer lines, and the town intends to go out to bid for Blackhawk.

He said he began getting calls from Mountain View residents, as soon as they heard of the possibility, and most would like the sewer.

Lucero said the regional water plan should be a priority on all the communities ICIPs. Brown said it should be a joint application for Hurley, Bayard, Santa Clara, Grant County and the mutual domestic water associations, because Silver City does not qualify for USDA funding.

Brown said Santa Clara was willing to be the lead agency in tying to Silver City water through Arenas Valley.

The regional water will go into the communities' water storage tanks so they manage it. "Hurley has no water rights. Bayard often pumps up to its amount of water rights. Santa Clara actually ran out of water when both pumps went out at the same time. Maybe we can recruit industry on land between the communities," Brown suggested.

"We're pumping 10 percent less than last year, even with new accounts," Brown said.

Brown then spoke about the Solid Waste Authority. "Our top four projects include recycling. We just received a grant. We had been bringing the recycled items in and paying to send them to El Paso. We will receive $43 a ton and pay $12 to send. With this grant, recycling will become a revenue source and will save landfill space.

"A month ago we were permitted to use cells 7 and 8," Brown continued. "We need a scraper at the top to cover the trash. It will cost $300,000 for a refurbished scraper."

Traci Burnsed, COG transportation planner, said the life expectancy of the equipment is 20 years.

Brown said in 2014, the town has to re-permit the landfill. The Solid Waste Authority also needs new vehicles, because all have high mileage.

"We also need a new roll-off truck, and in the next couple of years, we have to buy a new sideloader. We want to extend recycling to the Mining District to keep as much as possible out of the landfill.

Martinez asked if the town has considered doing trash pick up in other communities.

"We're happy to look at it," Brown said. "Our rate structure forces people to recycle. A large amount of the seniors are our biggest recyclers."

Hamilton said that's because they were brought up during or after the Depression when recycling was required.

Martinez said the Mining District communities have flat rates with no incentives to recycle.

"We could look at it as a regional authority," Brown said.

The town is requesting capital outlay for the scraper he told the legislators.

"We are also getting approval for sludge removal," Brown said.

The next article will report on Hurley and its ICIP.

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