Rodeo arena, soccer fields big in future of city

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Socorro
The Socorro City Council tended to the city’s venues for rodeos and soccer during the council’s regular meeting March 18.

The council approved sending a loan application to the New Mexico Finance Authority for funding to build the city’s rodeo arena, as well as a budget increase for the rodeo arena and soccer fields.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker said the NMFA loan application is a big step in the rodeo arena project.

Mable Gonzales, city finance director, said the resolution allows the city’s loan application to be presented March 22 to the NMFA committee for approval.

Bhasker said the city can borrow up to $1.4 million to build the rodeo facility, but hoped it won’t take that much. He said the city is committing payments of $80,000 per year that will come from lodgers’ tax revenue. He said the city is confident it can make the payment without using gross receipts tax revenue since it has pared back lodgers’ tax funds from some other projects. For instance, the city cut the budget for SocorroFest from $14,000 to $4,000.

“And I think we had a pretty good SocorroFest,” Bhasker said. “So we’re trying to be more critical on what monies we’re giving out.”

Bhasker said the lodgers’ tax brings about $320,000 per year to the city, and it has been pretty stable even in the bad economy. He said the city plans to encourage even more events when the rodeo facility is finished.
Gonzales said the other item, the budget increase for the rodeo arena and soccer fields, will create a new department — the rodeo arena/soccer fields department, which will be part of the parks department. She said the city needed to buy a mower with a trailer for the soccer fields, so staff decided to start the department to track all of the expenditures needed for the rodeo arena and soccer fields.

The budget resolution states the city is requesting authorization for the budget increase from the Local Government Division of the Department of Finance and Administration and the state Attorney General’s Office.
Lloyd Martinez, city parks department, said staff plans to reseed and fertilize the soccer fields over the next few weeks. He added they are looking for someone to laser level some fields. After fields are seeded, Martinez said staff will work on the parking lot and lighting.

Martinez said they also need to put in utilities, and Dennis Engineering is working on a plan to run the sewer line. He said the city will have to rent equipment to trench the sewer line because they can’t do it with the city’s backhoe.

Martinez said there is enough room for three soccer fields for 8- to 10-year-olds, plus four more full-size fields for older children. He remarked youth activities bring a lot of people to town.

In other business, the City Council:

• Approved an ordinance — for publication only — to sell land in the city’s industrial park to Blue Collar Construction. City Clerk Pat Salome stressed the ordinance was being approved for first reading only, and the sale will not proceed until the city goes through the public process. After publication for first reading, the city must hold a public hearing on the matter. The city will then republish the ordinance, and the public has 45 days after that to offer additional input or protest before the sale can proceed.

• Awarded a construction contract for Cuba Road area drainage and Highlands detention pond expansion to CMC Construction Inc. According to a memo from Dennis Engineering included with the city’s agenda packet, bids were solicited to allow the city to award the base bid schedule with one of two additive alternatives — either articulated concrete block erosion protection, or Portland cement concrete erosion protection. CMC Construction was the lowest bidder for either alternative, at $265,692.19 and $269,251.16 respectively.

• Approved a purchase agreement with Wagner Equipment for a motor grader. The sales agreement in the city’s agenda packet states the total after tax balance to buy the motor grader is $200,750.