News & Events

McKinley, Cibola county projects funded

14 March 2014

By Sherry Robinson

Santa Fe correspondent

SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez and her staff were relatively light-fingered in their line-item vetoes of capital outlay this year. As a result, McKinley County will see nearly $3.6 million in public works projects, and Cibola County will receive just more than $2 million.

However, the governor vetoed a bill authorizing water projects.

The capital outlay measure, dubbed the “Work New Mexico Act” by House Democrats, originally authorized about $232.8 million for state-owned and local projects statewide, including repairs and improvements to senior centers, dams, infrastructure and public buildings. It provoked some political scuffling because the governor wanted $111 million for water projects, and legislators provided about $86 million.

Before vetoes, $3.806 million was slated for McKinley County. After line item vetoes totaling $183,000, or 4.8 percent, the total is $3.598 million. In 2013, Martinez line-item vetoed $290,000, or 7.5 percent, of McKinley County’s capital spending; the year before she vetoed 71 percent.

“I don’t know why she would veto anything,” Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup,
said. Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, said, “I’m pleased overall. I had two vetoes that were very small. I felt she was fair.”

The Senate Finance Committee made the governor’s job easier by doing most of the slashing. For example, the largest requests in McKinley County originally were: $1.5 million for the Allison Bridge replacement, which was reduced to $150,000; $1.187 million to build the
Gallup Hillcrest Cemetery and Veterans Memorial, now $40,000; $1.5 million for a sewer system at Chichiltah Chapter, now $150,000; $1.85 million to build a senior center at Church Rock Chapter, eliminated; $1 million to improve Deer Springs Road, now $50,000; and $3.1 million for equipment at the Gallup Indian Medical Center, eliminated.

Now the largest projects funded are $523,000 for reconstruction of Hospital and College drives; $400,000 for a veterans’ building in Tohatchi; $295,000 for a veterans’ service center in Thoreau; and $370,000 for the Zuni commercial development
area. Gallup will also receive $40,000 for a north side skate park and $20,000 for a veterans’ park memorial pillar.

In Cibola County, two line-item vetoes reduced funding from $2.198 million to $2.148 million. The largest surviving projects are $500,000 for water treatment at Ramah Navajo, $400,000 for improvements to the San Mateo dam, $230,000 for the Cibola County Court Complex, $225,000 for improvements to Second Street, and $218,000 for improvements to the Acoma wastewater system.

In a separate measure, five projects were reauthorized, which continues funding to: Western New Mexico Correctional Facility, the Baahaali power line extension, the Crownpoint Wellness Center, Tohatchi Chapter parks and playgrounds, and the Tohatchi Chapter powerline extension.

Projects vetoed are:

 

  • $25,000 for the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority to plan, design and build a mixed-income affordable housing project in Gallup’s Stagecoach neighborhood under the Affordable Housing Act. Reps. Patricia Lundstrom and Sandra Jeff and Sen. George Muñoz each asked for $500,000.
  • $30,000 to plan, design and build a parking lot for the Coyote Canyon chapter house and senior center. Jeff asked for $420,000.
  • $20,000 to plan, design and build power line extensions in the Mariano Lake Chapter.
  • $25,000 to acquire rights of way and plan and build bridges on Manuelito Canyon Drive. Muñoz asked for $125,000.
  • $50,000 to acquire rights of way and to plan improvements to Manuelito Canyon Drive. Muñoz asked for $100,000.
  • $15,000 to plan drainage improvements for major road corridors in McKinley County. Jeff, Muñoz and Sen. John Pinto each asked for $35,000.
  • $43,000 to buy mulching equipment for the McKinley Soil and Water Conservation District. Lundstrom and Muñoz each asked for $35,500.
  • $25,000 to plan, build and equip an exercise center and buy a van for the Acoma Senior Center.
  • $25,000 to repair and rebuild the traditional irrigation system at Acoma Pueblo.


Muñoz said the Manuelito project had a $5 million federal match.

“We told them that, and they ignored it,” he said.

In her message, Martinez said: “I continue
to see important progress being made, with respect to legislators committing enough funding to complete meaningful phases of projects, or in many cases, entire projects. We are also seeing more local delegations of legislators pooling their requests for capital outlay dollars in order to complete larger, more regional projects that local communities have a difficult time funding themselves.”

Projects that didn’t make the cut were not shovel ready, she wrote, were “so under-funded that the funds could not be used in any meaningful way,” used 10year bonds for things that wouldn’t last that long, weren’t wanted or needed by community officials, or had more appropriate sources of funding.

She praised local communities for communicating earlier and more often with the Legislature, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Governor’s Office.

There are two other sources of funding.

In the $6.2 billion budget bill the governor signed this week, she allowed $50,000 to the Aging Network for homedelivered meals but deleted the phrase “at the Manuelito Senior Center.” Also eliminated was $100,000 for community health needs assessments performed by county and tribal health councils.

The budget does provide $300,000 to study the feasibility of a rail line from Farmington to Thoreau and an inland port for the Manuelito, Tsayatoh and Rock Springs chapters, which Lundstrom sought.

The governor vetoed SB 112, cosponsored by Lundstrom, which authorized the NMFA to make loans for 62 projects from the Water Project Fund and grants to five projects from
the Acequia Project Fund. It also changed the composition of the Water Trust Board.

In her veto message, Martinez argues that the veto doesn’t prevent the Water Trust Board from allocating available funds from the Water Project Fund during the current funding cycle.

“There are numerous worthy water projects that the Legislature previously authorized for funding,” Martinez wrote. “By vetoing this bill, I am actually
increasing, by over 12 percent, the number of projects that the board may consider this spring for funding in this time of extreme drought and additional demands on our water systems.”

SB 112 would have superseded previous legislative authorizations by enacting a new section of the Water Project Finance Act that allowed the NMFA to fund only those projects authorized in the most recent legislative session. “In addition, the Legislature removed — without justification or public review and comment — 56 water projects from the bill proposed by the board and endorsed by the NMFA Oversight Committee. Moreover, neither the Office of the State Engineer nor the New Mexico Environment Department were consulted on these changes.”

Martinez also objected to altering the bill from one authorizing specific projects to a bill that significantly changed the Water Project Finance Act.

Lundstrom, who chairs the NMFA Oversight Committee, wasn’t surprised by the veto.

“The Senate version changed the structure of the Water Trust Board. It wasn’t supposed to be set up that way,” she said.

The committee will work on a new bill during the interim.


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