Created: 11/04/2013 6:31 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico’s newest city is only four months old, but already some people who live there want to dissolve it and go back to having no city government at all.
Rio Communities is right across the river from Belen, in southern Valencia County. It’s home to about 5,000 people, and probably most famous for the Tillery Buick-GMC dealership that isn’t there anymore. In fact, that’s part of the problem. Rio Communities just doesn’t have very many businesses, and that means the newly incorporated city isn’t exactly overwhelmed with gross receipts tax revenues. Some say there isn’t enough money to hire a town cop, or a city clerk.
“We don’t have enough business here to support running a city,” said Joyce Moss, who is leading a petition drive demanding a new election that would let voters decide whether to keep Rio Communities a city, or let it return to being an unincorporated place along the highway. “We have no police protection. We have no fire protection. We have no money to pay for those kinds of services.”
“If they show me a pathway to success, I’ll support it,” said homeowner George Salas. “But if they don’t I can’t support it, and that’s all there is. “
Mayor Mark Gwinn, who was elected last summer, said voters need to give the new city more time.
“I know they want to hear a five year plan,” Gwinn said. “I know they want to hear a one year plan. Well, we’re only four months into it. They need to give us that time to build a five year plan.’
“It’s like birthing,” said homeowner Linda Haverty, who supports keeping the city incorporated. “A baby doesn’t come out of the womb fully equipped to function as an adult. They have to learn to crawl and to walk.”
If 25 percent of the registered voters in Rio Communities sign the petitions, that would force a special election. That’s about 835 voters.