County-charter school partnership moving forward

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The Socorro County Board of Commissioners moved one more step ahead in the process of helping Cottonwood Valley Charter School acquire three new permanent buildings last week. At their March 13 meeting, the commissioners passed an ordinance authorizing the county to apply for $1,129,524 from the New Mexico Finance Authority for modular classrooms for the school through an arrangement known as an intercept agreement.

Essentially, the NMSA will release the funds to the county, and pay itself back by intercepting a portion of the county’s gross receipts tax revenue until the loan is paid off.

The county will use the funds to buy the prefabricated buildings and have them set up. The school will then lease the buildings from the county for $124,000 a year for 10 years.

Although the ordinance passed by the commissioners authorizes the county to apply for the NMFA loan, it’s not a done deal.

“Adopting this ordinance does not mean you have to take the loan,” Adren Nance, attorney for the county, said.

Nance said there are still details to be worked out, but recommended the county pursue the arrangement, calling it a “unique and novel opportunity.” Once the loan is accepted by the county, however, there’s no going back. Nance said he may still change his recommendation before the loan is finalized

“I say we go forward until there’s something that tells us not to,” Nance said.

The buildings will belong to the county, and if the charter school should default on its lease payments, could be moved, sold or otherwise used as the county sees fit. After 10 years, when the buildings are paid off, arrangements can be made for ownership of them to be turned over to the school.

In Other Business

  • The commissioners approved the re-appointment of six members, and the appointment of one new member, to the Socorro County Land Use Commission. Holm Bursum IV, Nick Keller, Butch Hammack, Barbara Spreen-Atwood, Keith Banks and Carlos Lopopolo were all re-appointed to another two-year term, ending Dec. 31, 2013. Jim Wolfe, former mayor of Magdalena, was appointed to replace Commissioner Tom Fitch, and will also serve until Dec. 31, 2013.

Celeste Griego, executive assistant to County Manager Delilah Walsh, who was not present at the meeting, informed the county commissioners on Walsh’s behalf that Lopopolo has missed the past three land use commission meetings and can be replaced.

  • The commissioners approved an easement agreement that will allow the county to maintain a portion of County Road 147 that goes through private property belonging to Vincent del Curto. Through FEMA funding, the road was raised and a culvert installed for drainage. The easement will allow the county uninterrupted and unobstructed right-of-way to keep the culvert clear of weeds and obstacles.
  • A jail inspection has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, March 30.
  • District III Commissioner Phillip Anaya said he had been approached by residents of Alamo who want to see more law enforcement patrolling in their community. Commission Chair Danny Monette asked Griego to make a note to Walsh to ask Sheriff Phillip Montoya to have his men do more patrolling in that area.

 


-- Email the author at sbarteau@dchieftain.com.