According to Mayor Ravi Bhasker, it appears the city of Socorro was left out of the loop when it came to why the State of New Mexico is taking over Socorro County’s senior centers.
During the Socorro City Council’s regular meeting on Feb. 21, Bhasker didn’t appear to know that Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging had informed the Socorro County Manager, Michael Hawkes, that the county would no longer be overseeing or providing services.
A Feb. 9 letter cited the use of inmate labor as the reason for the state stepping in, citing potential litigation issues, lack of proper training for jail inmates, and the possible safety risks for senior citizens. The letter said Socorro County can provide senior services until March 18.
There was an indication Bhasker was about to be brought up to speed when he announced he would meet with Monica Abeita, the executive director of the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District, to discuss the matter.
That meeting was held at 1 p.m. following the adjournment of the noon council meeting. Mayor Bhasker welcomed the media to attend, but Abeita balked at the idea and requested the meeting be private.
Abeita did provide her contact information for questions following the meeting.
“I’m not sure what the people from Santa Fe are going to ask of the city,” Bhasker said. “But in my opinion, it is mandated that the county runs the senior centers. They run Meals on Wheels, and they run other services that are county-wide.”
Currently, the city provides the building for the Socorro Senior Center and contributes about $18,000 a year to its operation.
“When I looked at the county’s bottom line under investments – it’s $8 million plus. As public bodies, we are not banks to use tax funds to invest,” Bhasker said. “I’m going to tell the state that the city is not the one mandated to run senior centers. I don’t know how they (the county) abdicated that role, and I’m disappointed they did not send a letter saying they were going to stop.”
In other business, the council repealed the authorization of the Sale of Lot 2, Block 4 by the city to Carolina’s Choice after the cannabis company didn’t move forward and approved the disposition of vehicles.
Additionally, resolutions were unanimously approved for applications for municipal arterial programs funds for Otero Avenue, local government road funds for McCutcheon and Center streets, and transportation project funds for Fowler Street. The Council also approved job descriptions of the rodeo and sports complex manager and recreation facilitator jobs.
The Socorro City Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for March 7, at 6 p.m.