By Lynn Janes
The town of Hurley held a special meeting May 26, 2022, beginning with the roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Attendance to the meeting included Mayor Ed Stevens, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Maynes, Councilors Nanette Day and Freddie Rodriquez. Mateo Madrid came in after roll call.
Before the meeting started Mayor Stevens acknowledged Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director, being in attendance and thanked her for coming and helping with any water questions. Stevens also said at this time they would not have public input but would at a later time.
The council approved the agenda for the meeting.
The council approved the proposed water improvements with some slight change in wording after discussions. Ty Bays with Freeport McMoRan addressed the council with an offer from Freeport to the town of Hurley. He had given the council the complete document but went over the main highlights. Freeport would convey 200-acre feet of water rights and access to drill on Freeport property in areas thought to have a good chance of water. The land would remain with Freeport, but easement would be given to the town. Bays explained the town would have to treat the water. He pointed out that the document listed some stipulations. Bays said they have watched the town struggle and want to help and see the water issue resolved. Freeport will help with the legal end of the conveyance. He pointed out that if this agreement is not exercised for a consecutive five years it goes back to Chino. He said they had also been working with Santa Clara.
Stevens expressed the importance of another water source for the town.
The council acknowledged that Freeport exhibited being a good neighbor and they realized the real worth of the water rights the agreement would convey. Bays said he thought this covered everything, but they would have to run it by the state engineers.
Pricilla Lucero, environmental community representative from the public for the New Mexico Water Trust Board, was asked if she saw any problems. She asked Bays to address the water project and engineers report in the document. Recently the town got awarded $250,000 to update the system. She wanted to make it clear it would include all the areas. She pointed out that the timing would be important and what it will take to accomplish this. The second thing she gave the history of the Grant County Water Commission, the wastewater plant and the connection to the project. They already have some connections that need to be considered in this agreement. There have already been a lot of improvements in the county to support this effort. Total amount to date with those projects is $19 million. They have been doing some rate analysis to make it the most cost effective for all parties involved. She explained that whoever applied for the funding would be the one incurring the debt. She talked about it being a regional endeavor and then all would be a part and have some of the loan component. She pointed out that as a governor appointee to the Water Trust Board she is the eyes and ears of the monies available and currently the amount is $91.5 million for the four counties in the southwest region. Water is a basic need but also for economic development for the future. The area has had many challenges with the existing wells which has not helped. "We must keep in mind where all the funding has come from. The Interstate Stream Commission wants to make sure the funds are used for the intended purpose. The USDA statutorily says their funding must be used last. From an economic standpoint you need to have a secondary water source." She encouraged them to have it all ready for next year.
Stevens asked her if there would be a difficulty with what Freeport has offered to do? Bays asked if wording needed to be changed. Lucero said she would check on the language and get back to him. She said she didn't want to make the process difficult, and they only had four counties going for the funding.
Bays asked why the application could not be done before next year. Lucero explained there had been a lot of public input and public meetings had been requested. The public had concerns over the structuring. She said the state is looking at water associations, also. Many have been taken care of by the same people for years and they are looking at regional to be more efficient and effective.
The council approved the bid recommendation for an exploratory well. Stantec said they received two bids. They concerned wells three and four. The total amount of bid is $273,979 without tax. He gave them a funding analysis summary of other projects.
The council approved "text my gov." Darlene McBride, clerk's office, said it will be a better way to communicate in addition to public notices, newspaper, and the website. With "text my gov" people have access to information right away. She explained it would be a simple service and people would have to subscribe. It could be used for water outages, power outages, trash service changes, etc. The residents would also be able to communicate back. The service will be $3,000 for set up and $2,000 a year afterwards. The software will be included. McBride said she lives in Santa Clara, and they have it, and she has found it very useful.
The council approved resolution 20-2021/2022 participation in the Local Government Road Fund program and request for match waiver administered by the NM Department of Transportation. McBride explained this has been an annual resolution. Last year they used this to do chip seal, and this will continue it. She said last year they asked for $53,330 and had a match of $13,300 waived. This year the same amount has been applied for.
The council discussed grant opportunities. Stevens said he had been made aware the state and federal government has a lot of grant money available, more than previously. The town just needed to become more aggressive at going after it. Lucero agreed to his statement. She did mention a quality-of-life grant application coming up in the next few weeks worth $45 million statewide, 100 percent with no cap on it. She cautioned it would go quickly.
The council approved a public hearing concerning whether the town should have a fireworks ordinance or not. The governor has asked that each municipality act on the issue. The proclamation must be made 20 days prior to enacting.
Public hearing for fireworks will be held Tuesday June 7, 2022, at 5:30 pm and a special meeting at 6:00 pm
The next regular meeting will be held Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at 5:00 pm.