Editor's Note: This is part 3 of community presentations 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.
Morales thanked the representatives from Hurley for coming. They included Mayor Edward Encinas, Town Councilor Richard Maynes and Clerk Martha Salas.
"This is a strategy session to access not only capital outlay, but also other funding sources," Morales said. "Where do we stand with audits?"
Encinas said the town is finished with the 2010 and 2011 audits and the 2012 audit will be done by Dec. 1, by the deadline.
Morales said with new approaches to capital outlay, everyone requesting funding would have to have audits up to date.
"One of my frustrations is to see money be diverted away, if something is not done," Morales said. "We will focus on the infrastructure capital improvement plan to use it as a living document."
Encinas said the top priority in the ICIP is a water system, and next is street improvements with community development block grant funding for the latter. "We want to complete what we have started. We want lights on Diaz and Cortez Streets, and Carrasco is shovel-ready.
Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments Executive Director Priscilla Lucero said Linda McGee and Fran streets were ready to apply for CDBG, but must be listed on the ICIP.
Encinas asked if there were other funding sources, say with the Department of Transportation, for lighting, which will cost $240,000.
Morales said the funding he knows of doesn't seem to qualify for lights. "They're considered enhancements, so they wouldn't qualify for Colonias (Infrastructure Fund) money."
Martinez asked if lighting would come under public safety. He said qualifying for CDBG funding for low- and moderate-income areas was different from Housing and Urban Development funding.
Lucero said HUD uses different numbers from the U.S. Census.
Encinas pointed out that Diaz Avenue already has conduit installed ready to finish the lighting.
Lucero suggested the street improvement project be separated into two projects—one for streets and one for lighting. She suggested lighting be priority No. 2 and move Linda McGee and Fran streets to No. 6.
Morales said projects have become so scrutinized that if there is nay way to discredit one, it will be vetoed.
Encinas said the No. 3 priority is the building donated to the town by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. for use as town offices. "We have a donation of $25,000 for an architect's study. I have concerns about the building. We got bids for heating, ventilation and air-condition for $68,000, but it would cost about $1 million to replace the wiring. What do we do if we pay $25,000 for a study and find out we can't afford the building?"
Lucero said the gift of the building was that it be used only for offices. "There is no funding anywhere for offices. CDBG can fund for ADA improvements, but no other improvements."
Martinez said it would be necessary to have the square footage. "I think the outcome of the master plan has more merit."
Maynes pointed out that the structure is a landmark building for the town. "My thinking is if we can tap into legislative funds for the architectural plan, a study can help from an economic standpoint. Do a master plan and phase the improvements."
Lucero said a plan would not be eligible for legislative funding, but the New Mexico Finance Authority could fund the plan.
Maybe said the three councilors are in consensus to look at the building. "If a master plan shows it's not feasible, we can turn it back to the company without hurting our relationship with Freeport."
Lucero recommended it be moved down in priority.
The No. 4 priority is vehicle and equipment purchases. Morales asked if any local funding were available for the purpose. Encinas said the town needs police vehicles and an ACL truck.
Martinez wondered if the Police Protection Fund could be used.
Salas said the only real option is the New Mexico Finance Authority for a loan, although Encinas suggested that road graders and the truck might be available at the state auction of excess state inventory.
Lucero said it should be taken out of the top five.
Morales suggested water and sewer improvements be moved up in rank. They were moved to No. 3 to access colonias funding.
As for priority No. 1, the water system, Maynes said he recommended the town go with the regional water plan, and do a regional preliminary engineering report. Lucero said it would still be difficult, but USDA funding might complement a loan.
She asked what the town wanted to fund with capital outlay. She said no funding opportunities, other than capital outlay were available for the Hurley Cemetery, improvements to the swimming pool and park expansion, but the latter two would not be looked on very favorably by legislators.
Encinas said the town was down to about 50 plots in the cemetery, and the town has requested additional land from Freeport.
Morales said hearing from Freeport sooner rather than later might help with capital outlay. He suggested the cemetery be put into the top five.
Maybe pointed out the swimming pool is the only one in the area with a baby pool, but the water is not heated.
"A pool is risky," Morales said. "It's why the university didn't get funding."
Encinas said if after a study on the historic building, it would be found not feasible, the town would need a new town hall.
Maynes listed the priorities as No. 1, water supply; No. 2, lighting for Diaz Avenue; No. 3, water and sewer improvements; No. 4, Hurley Cemetery and No. 5, the swimming pool. "These will have to be finalized at a Council meeting."
The deadline is before the Prospectors' meeting in early December.
The next article will be the report from Grant County.