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Prospectors' Legislative Community Forum, Part 6

Editor's Note: This is the Part 6 of a multi-article series on the Prospectors' Legislative Community Forum, held at Western New Mexico University on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Community groups presented their needs and concerns to New Mexico Reps. Dianne Hamilton and Rodolpho "Rudy" Martinez, and Sen. Howie Morales.

Mayor James Marshall and Town Manager Alex Brown gave the town's presentation.

"It's been a busy year-and-a-half doing projects," Marshall said. "We've done Phase IA of Vistas de Plata and have two or three homes going in. A scree bar was installed on the Wastewater Treatment Plant. We have completed Phase I of Scott Park. The tennis courts were completed and have high usage. We completed the Parks Maintenance building roof and have worked on the golf course.

"Planning for (Community Development Block Grant) funding is almost done," Marshall continued. "The Gabby Hayes Well is done. We are waiting to do the preliminary engineering for the regional water project.

"In fact, we are waiting for a lot of stuff from the state," Marshall said. "It is months behind in serving contracts."

"It's a major obstacle," Brown said. "We're still under the threat of the disappearance of Hold Harmless. With that funding we provide services to residents.

"The new problem is the delay in issuance of contracts," Brown said. "For grants, we're waiting seven to eight months. One was awarded in March and we received the contract in October. We don't have approval to put things out to bid.

"As a result of the delays, we cannot apply next year for CDBG funding, for the first time in 12 years, because we don't have time to complete the project we just got the funding for," he continued.

He said the regional water plan was awarded in April, but the contract has not been received, so it cannot yet go out for bid.

Brown cited other problems in receiving clearance from the state to proceed with projects. "It is a major delay in all projects. Then we have problems when we get projects going, we can't get reimbursement. For more than seven months, reimbursement of $600,000 is outstanding. It puts hits on our cash flow. Their continuing excuse is that they are short-staffed."

"Next year, our priority is Scott Park," Brown said. "We need $500,000 for the concession stand and $70,000 for the lights. All the engineering is done. We just need the funding. If we don't get the funding, we will borrow, so the fields are fully functional."

No. 2 on the town's priority list is Vistas de Plata. "We have $600,000 in federal funding and a $250,000 CDBG reversion," Brown said. "We will shortly go out to bid for Phase IB."

"Our audits are up to date," he said.

Hamilton said she was concerned at seeing so many businesses leaving Silver City and Grant County. "I know MainStreet is working on the problem. Do you have an economic development planner for the city?"

"We have designated the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments to be our economic development planner," Brown replied.

"Is there anything new coming to the town?" Hamilton asked.

"A few have submitted plans to come in," Brown said. "But I can't say what they are yet.

"I mostly talk to older ladies," Hamilton laughed. "I'm always glad when I have positive things to say over bridge."

"Last year, we have the greatest amount of gross receipts ever," Brown said. "As of now, we are 7 percent above last year at this time."

Martinez asked if the issue of contracts and reimbursement being delayed was based around one agency. "If the lack of personnel is the excuse, the agency is placing a burden on municipalities. I will continue to visit the agency and get information."

"On the Hold Harmless, I assume the Municipal League is presenting a resolution to protect the Hold Harmless?" Martinez asked. "The president of the Municipal League makes it known what impact it would have. We have to make sure entities are protected if we change Hold Harmless."

"I'm glad to see you working with other communities," Martinez said.

"I know the frustrations with delays from state government, because it is putting next year's funding in jeopardy, " Morales said. "I commend your efforts to bring in new residents and keep residents. The facility at Scott Park is amazing. "

He asked for clarification on the capital outlay request forms. "You want $500,000, $100,000 and another $500,000?"

Brown said one of the $500,000 requests was to upgrade the sports complex, for the concession stand and bathrooms, and the $100,000 for the lighting.

Morales asked for a form paper trail on the ICIP and other sources of funding.

Brown said one ICIP request was the match for CDBG, "which we won't be able to apply for. It was for street drainage projects, and the AWSA funding. "We are looking at the Department of Transportation for street drainage and also at Colonias Infrastructure Fund money."

"I want to make sure the capital outlay forms are ready for submittal," Morales said.

Priscilla Lucero, SWNMCOG director, said the forms are ready, except for the lighting.

"I want to submit these requests the first day," Morales said.

The next article will address the city of Bayard's and town of Hurley's needs.

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