County Commissioners addressed over a dozen items on their agenda last week, including road work, rate changes and requests.

City road project
Commissioner Joe Gonzales’ request to use his allotted $200,000 to contribute to the City of Socorro’s capitol appropriation project was approved. The road project includes Leroy Avenue, Walkway, Mary Place and Cassidy. The city was awarded $600,000 for the project, but the cost estimate came out to $841,343.50. Gonzales requested to use his funds to cover the additional cost of the valley gutter on walkway to prevent deterioration to the street after rainfall.

Rate changes
An amended franchise agreement proposed by Valley Sanitation, which included changes to commercial roll off rates, ton limits and a flat rate for services in Magdalena was tabled with the request for more information on the rates.

Senior center
Linda Mares requested the county’s permission to reopen the Veguita senior center. She said the city has been supporting the Veguita area for a year delivering 60 meals a day and it’s been a challenge with only one driver. She proposed opening it up daily 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with three employees.

“We’d like to work with the county and get access to the center and come up with a plan and funding to open the center,” Mares said. “Perhaps the county could help with building maintenance and utilities.”

County Manger Hawkes said an official request with a budget would be a good place to start so they could see how the county can help. He said they want to serve the seniors, but previously senior centers were way over budget and that’s why they had to shut them down. However, they are willing to look at the budget.
Mares agreed to return with a formal request from the city.

The county agreed to contribute $976,530 in an intergovernmental agreement between Socorro County and the administrative office of the courts for improvements of the county courthouse. An MOU with Longhorn Construction for the courthouse improvements was passed.

Quebradas road
At the previous county meeting, Donna Harris spoke about her issues with the lack of road maintenance on the scenic Quebradas byway. Harris spoke during public comment and brought documents to share with the commissioners, including a map which lists her road as county road 152, the MOU between the county and the BLM, and the annual payments in lieu of taxes.

“It (MOU) clearly shows that the county agrees to grade the road two or three times a year, in order to maintain year around travel,” Harris said. “It also includes a long list of items to be maintained. Ditches, turnouts, cattle guards, it does not include prohibitions on putting up a sign or putting in a culvert or anything else, it also does not guarantee any annual support from the BLM or anybody else.”

Virginia Alguire also spoke during public comment. Alguire introduced herself as the new Acting Field Manager, BLM Socorro Field Office. She said that longtime manager Mark Mathews retired as of December 31.

“Let me state for the record that the BLM’s intent is to work cooperatively and professionally with the county,” said Alguire. “The recent article in the paper indicates that the county may not have the same understanding (of the MOU).”

She said the BLM effectively hired the county as a contractor to do maintenance under BLM supervision and there was a one-time funding from the BLM, but they were in “no way obligated to pay the county for routine maintenance or occurring variables.”

Alguire said that the county receives payment in lieu of taxes, “these monies from the federal agencies who occupy land within the county, essentially are property taxes.”
She said a meeting to discuss the MOU between the BLM and county had been cancelled by the county and she would like to reschedule the meeting.

“BLM is happy to revisit that MOU, but I can tell you that no future funding will be attached to that MOU obligating the BLM. If the county wishes to dissolve that MOU, they will need to submit a formal request in writing,” Alguire said.

She requested to reinstate monthly meetings with the county and state to discuss roads.

In other business, the county joined Luna County’s opposition to the designation of Mimbres Peaks National Monument, and the El Rio Sol Transmission line community agreement was approved without a vote in favor from Chairman Ray Martinez.

The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on March 12.








Jessica Carranza Pino, Editor