Sandoval County legislative session wishlist
RIO RANCHO, N.M. — They say it takes a village, but in the case of legislative priorities for our neighbors to the north, it takes a village, town, city and county. Thursday morning, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Corrales and Sandoval County leaders discussed their Roundhouse wishlists for next week’s legislative session.
Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull said he has the same legislative priorities as last year: infrastructure and public safety.
“Police cars, improving the buildings, ambulances, fire trucks, pumper trucks,” he said. “Infrastructure such as sewer lines and water lines, different things like that. Those are always kind of a staple that we’re going to ask for every year because that helps move the community along.”
That includes roads. The city has pulled from its own budget for several projects in recent years and said it would be able to do more with the state’s help.
“We’re investing in our own roads, and we are spending a lot of money there,” Mayor Hull said. “We always love it when our legislators come alongside and partner with us and help us achieve those goals are building our quality of life.”
Moving to Corrales, fire prevention and water are the community’s main focuses. The village’s mayor hopes to secure $1,885,500 from the state to install an emergency response water tower on Angel Hill. He also hopes for $2,995,500 to add fire suppression lines throughout Corrales and $15,800,000 for wastewater collection.
A priority for the town of Bernalillo during the upcoming session is tax reform.
“Our biggest concern is that it’s done in a very thoughtful, careful manner because too often, we see attempts to fix a problem statewide that ended up creating these dreaded unintended consequences,” Mayor Jack Torres said, “So for us, it’s important that there be some sort of safety net, some sort of provisions that if these unintended consequences do hit a municipality, whether it’s us or anyone else, that there’s some way that they can be supported or held harmless through a difficult period.”
Sandoval County Manager Wayne Johnson said every community is asking for money this year.
“They’ve got $3.6 billion in new revenue at the state,” Johnson said. “One of our priorities is a new judicial complex or an expansion of the existing one. We now have five judges and three courtrooms. So, we have an obligation as a county to provide them with space, and we need help from the legislature to do that— to pay for that expanded space.”
Behavioral health is another county-wide concern.
“Our top three priorities are supporting and funding behavioral health and expansion of behavioral health that helps our cops and helps our communities,” Johnson added. “That’s what we want to see from the legislature.”
He also hopes the state will provide funding for vital water projects in Sandoval County, public safety improvements and infrastructure projects.
“One of the items that came over from last year, and the previous year, and the previous year, and previous year, is Paseo Del Volcan,” Johnson said. “That is a corridor that would connect 550 all the way down to I-40. So, it would benefit Rio Rancho, would benefit West Side Albuquerque, benefit Bernalillo County and of course, Sandoval County. It would create a corridor for business and economic-based jobs on the west side of the Rio Grande from Rio Rancho, all the way down to the south.”
Johnson said it would cost more than $100 million dollars to complete Paseo Del Volcan. That is where State Representatives like Joshua Hernandez come in because ultimately, these big decisions will fall into the hands of lawmakers and New Mexico’s governor.
“We’re going up in a couple of days, and these are the people that I represent, and their priorities are my priorities,” Rep. Hernandez said. “My colleagues on both sides—a lot of the conversations I’ve had is ‘what do we do with that funding?’ And ‘how do we get it to be the most effective, and for the most betterment of our future for this state?’”