By Roger Lanse
Silver School Superintendent William Hawkins came before the Silver City Town Council at its Sept. 28, 2021, meeting to encourage voters on November 2 to approve a 1.5 mill levy for the next six years for school building maintenance, supplies, safety measures, and equipment. Williams stated there would be no tax increase if approved by voters as the levy is already in place. However, District 3 Councilor Jose Ray Jr. said he is going to vote 'no' on the measure, saying, "Why is it that only the property owners pay for it and not the regular public? Might you take it upstate and try and see if it could be fixed to where if we vote for it let everybody pay for it, not just the property owners. And also, there's a lot of property owners that are elderly and are on fixed incomes. And also, on this bond issue here, I'll be honest with you, I will vote 'no,' because I'm tired of paying, being a property owner. Tired of paying taxes on something that's done every two-three years. If the public would pay their share, that'd be fine."
District 4 Councilor Guadalupe Cano told Williams that several mobility-impaired residents in her district are complaining because they were told by the Silver High School principal they could no longer park on the lower parking lot nearer the football field, as the football players need to run through that area to reach the field. Williams said he would certainly look into it and thought there must be a simple solution. "I don't know a lot about a lot of things, but there's plenty of space between cars, right?"
Ray also remarked that some schools seem to get more of the mill levy money than others and pointed out Sixth Street School in his district, that seems to be shorted when the mill levy money is passed around, pointing to the few small restrooms available and heating problems. Williams replied, "I'll follow up with the heating situation and I'll go back over and take a look at the restrooms, as well, at Sixth Street. I'll talk to Mr. Trujillo over there and find out what I may not be aware of."
Mayor Ken Ladner said that because Cynthia Bettison has resigned her post as District 1 councilor, that position is now vacant. According to the mayor, if anyone is interested in the two-year position, instructions on how to apply can be found on the town's website.
Linda Pafford spoke to council about how the proposed cannabis ordinance would limit her use of medical marijuana. She said, "As you know, this ordinance proposal would restrict all cannabis smoking from all public spaces, including streets, sidewalks, alleys, parking lots, and open spaces where I might encounter another human being. It is now legal for me to carry cannabis and the devices for its use, but this ordinance leaves me nowhere to smoke it. This ordinance is blatant discrimination against a single class of cannabis use. It is discrimination based on years of teaching fear of this substance from the Reefer Madness campaign of the synthetic fiber and tree-pulp industry to make it illegal - to the modern DARE teaching that links marijuana to heroin and opium, defining it as a gateway drug. There is no rational basis to not allow cannabis smokers the same cautionary restrictions expected for tobacco use." She
finished by asking council to "Please remove these restrictions and place cannabis smoke under the same umbrella as other smoke products."
Council approved a resolution authorizing a Colonias Infrastructure Project grant in the amount of $1,085,960 to complete Phase III of the Ridge Road Improvements, which includes Ridge Road from Bobwhite Drive to Lance Drive (city limits). According to Town Manager Alex Brown, $977,364 will come by a grant from the New Mexico Finance Authority and $108,596 from one-eighth of one percent of Silver City's gross receipts tax. Additionally, future grants of $350,000 from the Department of Transportation, and $200,000 from legislative allocations, will be used to fund the project, Brown said. Plans are to start construction in late February 2022.
Council approved a resolution supporting the efforts of Corre Caminos Transportation Services. District 2 Councilor Lynda Aiman-Smith said ridership is up again following a downturn during the pandemic and will probably continue to increase. Aiman-Smith said, "We are saying as a town, as a community, as a council, we are supporting this idea of public transportation and we are going to help fund public transportation."
Council approved a resolution authorizing the town to participate in the Capital Outlay Program of the Department of Transportation to the tune of $1 million awarded to improve Little Walnut Road from Chavez Road north 1,000 feet. The design is complete, Brown said, and construction is scheduled for late spring 2022, so as not to compete with the Ridge Road Project. However, Brown said, the two projects may be lumped together into one so that the Little Walnut project can start when the Ridge Road project is complete. The $350,000 mentioned above, coming from the Department of Transportation, can be used for either project.
Council approved another resolution for participation in the Capital Outlay Program of the Department of Transportation for $200,000 to help fund the Ridge Road project.
A separate Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) for the Silver City Senior Center including building improvements, solar panels and new vehicle for Meals on Wheels, was approved by council. No funding to date, but $455,000 expected in 2023.
Council approved a special dispenser permit application for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance-Gila Wild and Scenic Rivers of Opportunity Conference to be held on Oct. 8, 2021, at 704 Bullard Street-Silver City Mainstreet Plaza, with alcohol service from 4 to 9 p.m. and on Oct. 9, 2021, at the San Vicente Trail-downtown section off N. Bullard Street, with alcohol service from 4 to 11 p.m.
Bridgette Johns was appointed by Ladner to the Trails and Open Space Advisory Committee.