Rodeo arena, soccer fields big in Socorro’s future

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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.