Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Funding Secured for County Libraries, Bridges, Fire and Rescue


By Isabella Alves

Libraries in Sandoval County are past due for some improvements, and the voters checked out their wallets for the cause.

In the November election, 66% of Sandoval voters approved a $1.8 million general obligation bond to “plan, design, upgrade, construct, remodel, furnish, equip, repair and otherwise improve library facilities,” according to the ordinance the Sandoval Board of County Commissioners approved at its Feb. 22 meeting.

Every library in the county, except the two tribal libraries, requested funding for various improvements and will receive it through the bond. The two tribal libraries get funding from other sources, according to commission presentations. 

The county will get the funding through the New Mexico Finance Authority and pay back the funds over four years at 2.7%  interest rate. 

But libraries aren’t the only things that need improvements in Sandoval County. 

* Sandoval County Fire and Rescue needs four new fire engines – which are currently from the 1990s. Funding to pay for new fire engines would come from a FEMA grant and, if rewarded, it would have a 10% match requirement that would cost the county $273,000. 

The engines would be used in all four major fire regions in the county. New Mexico’s Congressional delegation in Washington D.C. is also writing letters in support of the funding for the county, Fire Chief Eric Masterson said.

* Two of three bridges along County Road 11 south of Cuba are also getting replaced for $4.7 million. County staff said the bridges are in bad shape, and need replacement, but they are looking for additional funding outside of the county to replace the third bridge. The county contracted with Meridian Contracting Services for the new bridges.

* Drivers in Sandoval County are also being kept safe through the DWI grant distribution program. Commissioners approved the grant application, which would benefit Rio Rancho Police Department and the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office. The annual grant application has been used in the past to pay for things such as the speed camera trailers, and other various needs.  

* The Sandoval County facility use policy was also updated by commissioners. 

The last time the policy was updated was in 2013. The main changes to the policy include energy performance, waste diversion and efficiency. 

The big emphasis in the policy includes an emphasis on stewardship, not just “dos an don’ts” the county’s Maintenance Director Charles Martinez said.

The policy applies to all county facilities, including the landfill.

“I’ve seen this landfill go from…a crater in the Earth to this large hill for me, and it will soon be a mountain one day,” Martinez said. “It amazes me how must waste us humans produce.”

One of the ways to address the matter is by using more recycled materials and centralizing trash locations to help reduce the amount of items that’s being thrown away, he said

The new policy would also prohibit the use of political signs on county properties or the facilities being used for partisan purposes except, as it pertains to the Board of County Commission. 

This would also mean the political signs that are along Idalia Rd and NM-528 would be taken down, commission chairman David Heil said.


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