Newly sworn-in Municipal Judge Joseph Gutierrez swears in City Council members Mary Ann Chavez-Lopez, Michael Olguin Jr., Damien Ocampo and Peter Romero, who all won re-election in November.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain


Members of Socorro’s City Council and the mayor will be in Santa Fe on Friday advocating for funding from state legislators before the legislative session begins next week.

The biggest request will be funding for water and wastewater expansion on West Spring Street, Evergreen and Gianera Street, said City Administrator Donald Monette. City officials want to ask for $6.1 million to expand water and wastewater.

The sewer project that the city recently finished upgraded the sewers, said Mayor Ravi Bhasker, but that section of the city is not on the sewer system. Instead the area on Evergreen operates on a septic tank. The city has also already upgraded the sewer plant, which caused an increase in sewer rates.

The city has had two recent big water breaks, said Bhasker, including one in front of the magistrate court and one on Highway 60. The water pipe that broke in front of the court was placed in 1898, he said.

Another request, one that did not make it onto the city’s Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan, is for funds to rehabilitate the city’s water tanks.

“It’s been over 20 years and they need to be cleaned out, and they’re rusty, and replace the valves because they leak,” said Utilities Director Lloyd Martinez. “It’s been over 20 years since we’ve done them.”

When the Environmental Department does sanitary surveys, they have requested for the last several years that the city redo the tanks, he said. Redoing the tanks would include cleaning them, resurfacing the inside, coating the inside and replacing the valves.

City officials are also asking for $2 million to repave streets. Two of the streets named in the ICIP are Skylark and Gianera. Gianera is by Sarracino Middle School and part of the bus route. The foundation under the street is clay, making it expensive to redo, said Bhasker.

The smallest item officials are requesting funding for is $76,000 for a street sweeper to pick up big rocks. The city’s existing street sweeper is 30 years old and barely running, said Monette.

City officials will also request $400,000 for the Rodeo Arena to put in heaters for winter events, to add another stand of bleachers and to add wind shades.

City councilors Damien Ocampo and Michael Olguin also want the city to look into softball fields, said Bhasker, so the city officials will ask for $100,000 for planning money to plan a set of softball fields that could be shared with the schools. The softball teams have been using city fields for at least 10 years.

The city officials are also asking for $400,000 for Finley Gym to make improvements like adding air exchangers that could purify the air and reconditioning the old classrooms. There’s also a request for $400,000 to finish the convention center, said Monette.

Other items on the ICIP for the 2023 fiscal year are:

-Improvements for Otero Avenue and Fisher Avenue

-Cuba Road drainage improvements

-EMRTC Bridge

-Funding for a broadband/fiber loop

-South entrance landscaping

-Highway 60 turning lane improvements

-Funding for an animal shelter quarantine building

-Lopezville Road reconstruction and drainage

Requested items on the ICIP for future fiscal years from 2024 to 2027 include municipal airport improvements, Police Department auto purchase, auto fuel/CNG purchases, Fire Department vehicle and equipment purchase, storm drain system improvements, flood control crossing new construction, Skylark Street and Maxwell Street area reconstruction, Gianera Street reconstruction and Socorro mental health facility.

Cathy Cook, Editor, El Defensor Chieftain